People rely on reason to think about and navigate the abstract world of human relations in much the same way they rely on maps to study and traverse the physical world. Starting from that simple observation, renowned geographer Gunnar Olsson offers in Abysmal an astonishingly erudite critique of the way human thought and action have become deeply immersed in the rhetoric of cartography and how this cartographic reasoning allows the powerful to map out other people’s lives.
A spectacular reading of Western philosophy, religion, and mythology that draws on early maps and atlases, Plato, Kant, and Wittgenstein, Thomas Pynchon, Gilgamesh, and Marcel Duchamp, Abysmal is itself a minimalist guide to the terrain of Western culture. Olsson roams widely but always returns to the problems inherent in reason, to question the outdated assumptions and fixed ideas that thinking cartographically entails. A work of ambition, scope, and sharp wit, Abysmal will appeal to an eclectic audience—to geographers and cartographers, but also to anyone interested in the history of ideas, culture, and art.
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.
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.
Sixty years ago, at the height of World War II, an extraordinary series of gatherings took place at Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts. During the summers of 1942–1944, leading Europeanï¬gures in the arts and sciences met at the college with their American counterparts for urgent conversations about the future of human civilization in a precarious world.
Two Sorbonne professors, the distinguished medievalist Gustave Cohen and the existentialist philosopher Jean Wahl, organized these "Pontigny" sessions, named after an abbey in Burgundy where similar symposia had been held in the decades before the war. Among the participants—many of whom were Jewish or had Jewish backgrounds—were the philosophers Hannah Arendt and Rachel Bespaloff, the poets Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and the linguist Roman Jakobson, and the painters Marc Chagall and Robert Motherwell.
In this collection of original essays, Stanley Cavell and Jacques Derrida lead an international group of scholars—including Jed Perl, Mary Ann Caws, Jeffrey Mehlman, and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl—in assessing the lasting impact and contemporary signiï¬cance of Pontigny-en- Amérique. Rachel Bespaloff, a tragicï¬gure who wrote a major work on the Iliad, is restored to her rightful place beside Arendt and Simone Weil. Anyone interested in the "intellectual resistance" of Francophone intellectuals and artists, and the inspiring support from such Americanï¬gures as Stevens and Moore, will want to read this pioneering work of scholarship and historical re-creation.
Naomi Zack begins this extraordinary book with the premise that if one is to understand Western conceptions of racialized and gendered identity, one needs to go back to a period when such categories were not salient and examine how notions of identity in the seventeenth century were fundamentally different from subsequent constructions. The seventeenth century is the last time, for example, that Europeans had any contact with non-Europeans without racializing them. From the eighteenth century onward, race becomes a central category for Europeans in their transactions with a different world, and gender undergoes radical transformation.
Zack takes the reader through a lucid tour of the lives, times, and writings of such key "bachelors of Science" as Bacon, Descartes, Newton, and Gassendi. The book situates these empiricist philosophers and their canonical reputations within the larger framework of the de facto "masculinization of science" and "scientizing of masculinity" in the seventeenth century, arguing for a more nuanced understanding of these key thinkers of the period.
Other fascinating issues examined in this book include pre-racial conceptions of slavery, witchcraft trials and their connection to homosociality, and the highly sexualized nature of women's identity in the seventeenth century. Zack points out the link between elite bachelorhood, the profession of philosophy, and scientific pursuit as recreational activity. This book is a must for understanding the historical and philosophical precedents of modern scientific identity, race, and gender.
Battle in the Mind Fields
John A. Goldsmith and Bernard Laks University of Chicago Press, 2019 Library of Congress P33.G65 2018 | Dewey Decimal 410.9
“We frequently see one idea appear in one discipline as if it were new, when it migrated from another discipline, like a mole that had dug under a fence and popped up on the other side.”
Taking note of this phenomenon, John Goldsmith and Bernard Laks embark on a uniquely interdisciplinary history of the genesis of linguistics, from nineteenth-century currents of thought in the mind sciences through to the origins of structuralism and the ruptures, both political and intellectual, in the years leading up to World War II. Seeking to explain where contemporary ideas in linguistics come from and how they have been justified, Battle in the Mind Fields investigates the porous interplay of concepts between psychology, philosophy, mathematical logic, and linguistics. Goldsmith and Laks trace theories of thought, self-consciousness, and language from the machine age obsession with mind and matter to the development of analytic philosophy, behaviorism, Gestalt psychology, positivism, and structural linguistics, emphasizing throughout the synthesis and continuity that has brought about progress in our understanding of the human mind. Arguing that it is impossible to understand the history of any of these fields in isolation, Goldsmith and Laks suggest that the ruptures between them arose chiefly from social and institutional circumstances rather than a fundamental disparity of ideas.
In Being after Rousseau, Richard L. Velkley presents Jean-Jacques Rousseau as the founder of a modern European tradition of reflection on the relation of philosophy to culture—a reflection that calls both into question. Tracing this tradition from Rousseau to Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schelling, and Martin Heidegger, Velkley shows late modern philosophy as a series of ultimately unsuccessful attempts to resolve the dichotomies between nature and society, culture and civilization, and philosophy and society that Rousseau brought to the fore.
The Rousseauian tradition begins, for Velkley, with Rousseau's criticism of modern political philosophy. Although the German Idealists such as Schelling accepted much of Rousseau's critique, they believed, unlike Rousseau, that human wholeness could be attained at the level of society and history. Heidegger and Nietzsche questioned this claim, but followed both Rousseau and the Idealists in their vision of the philosopher-poet striving to recover an original wholeness that the history of reason has distorted.
Between the years 1643 and 1649, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618–80) and René Descartes (1596–1650) exchanged fifty-eight letters—thirty-two from Descartes and twenty-six from Elisabeth. Their correspondence contains the only known extant philosophical writings by Elisabeth, revealing her mastery of metaphysics, analytic geometry, and moral philosophy, as well as her keen interest in natural philosophy. The letters are essential reading for anyone interested in Descartes’s philosophy, in particular his account of the human being as a union of mind and body, as well as his ethics. They also provide a unique insight into the character of their authors and the way ideas develop through intellectual collaboration.
Philosophers have long been familiar with Descartes’s side of the correspondence. Now Elisabeth’s letters—never before available in translation in their entirety—emerge this volume, adding much-needed context and depth both to Descartes’s ideas and the legacy of the princess. Lisa Shapiro’s annotated edition—which also includes Elisabeth’s correspondence with the Quakers William Penn and Robert Barclay—will be heralded by students of philosophy, feminist theorists, and historians of the early modern period.
In the seventeenth century, a vision arose which was to captivate the Western imagination for the next three hundred years: the vision of Cosmopolis, a society as rationally ordered as the Newtonian view of nature. While fueling extraordinary advances in all fields of human endeavor, this vision perpetuated a hidden yet persistent agenda: the delusion that human nature and society could be fitted into precise and manageable rational categories. Stephen Toulmin confronts that agenda—its illusions and its consequences for our present and future world.
"By showing how different the last three centuries would have been if Montaigne, rather than Descartes, had been taken as a starting point, Toulmin helps destroy the illusion that the Cartesian quest for certainty is intrinsic to the nature of science or philosophy."—Richard M. Rorty, University of Virginia
"[Toulmin] has now tackled perhaps his most ambitious theme of all. . . . His aim is nothing less than to lay before us an account of both the origins and the prospects of our distinctively modern world. By charting the evolution of modernity, he hopes to show us what intellectual posture we ought to adopt as we confront the coming millennium."—Quentin Skinner, New York Review of Books
In Counter-History of the Present Gabriel Rockhill contests, dismantles, and displaces one of the most widespread understandings of the contemporary world: that we are all living in a democratized and globalized era intimately connected by a single, overarching economic and technological network. Noting how such a narrative fails to account for the experiences of the billions of people who lack economic security, digital access, and real political power, Rockhill interrogates the ways in which this grand narrative has emerged in the same historical, economic, and cultural context as the fervid expansion of neoliberalism. He also critiques the concurrent valorization of democracy, which is often used to justify U.S. military interventions on the behalf of capital. Developing an alternative account of the current conjuncture that acknowledges the plurality of lived experiences around the globe and in different social strata, he shifts the foundations upon which debates about the contemporary world can be staged. Rockhill's counter-history thereby offers a new grammar for historical narratives, creating space for the articulation of futures no longer engulfed in the perpetuation of the present.
Since Diana's car crash in August 1997, media interest in the crash as an event needing explanation has proliferated. A glut of documentaries on television have investigated the social and scientific history of our responses to the car crash, as well as showing the personal impact of the crash on individual lives.
In trying to give meaning to one celebrity crash, the more general significance of the car crash, its challenge to rational control or explanation, its disregard for the subject and its will, became the focus for attention. Coincidentally, the two most newsworthy films of 1997 were David Cronenberg's Crash and James Cameron's Titanic, both of which generated intense popular interest.
The principal purpose of this collection of essays is to subject texts, within which crashes figure, to well-defined cultural study. The themes that emerge from this collection, which is truly experimental in attempting to draw together the resources for a cultural study of events, are many and varied. Moreover, they vary in format, in order to bring as many modes of address as possible to bear on the crashes that catastrophically and fantastically punctuate the fabric of everyday life.
The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, Husserl's last great work, is important both for its content and for the influence it has had on other philosophers. In this book, which remained unfinished at his death, Husserl attempts to forge a union between phenomenology and existentialism.
Husserl provides not only a history of philosophy but a philosophy of history. As he says in Part I, "The genuine spiritual struggles of European humanity as such take the form of struggles between the philosophies, that is, between the skeptical philosophies--or nonphilosophies, which retain the word but not the task--and the actual and still vital philosophies. But the vitality of the latter consists in the fact that they are struggling for their true and genuine meaning and thus for the meaning of a genuine humanity."
In this ambitious book, philosopher Otfried Höffe provides a sophisticated account of the principle of freedom and its role in the project of modernity. Höffe addresses a set of complex questions concerning the possibility of political justice and equity in the modern world, the destruction of nature, the dissolving of social cohesion, and the deregulation of uncontrollable markets. Through these considerations, he shows how the idea of freedom is central to modernity, and he assesses freedom’s influence in a number of cultural dimensions, including the natural, economic and social, artistic and scientific, political, ethical, and personal-metaphysical.
Neither rejecting nor defending freedom and modernity, he instead explores both from a Kantian point of view, looking closely at the facets of freedom’s role and the fundamental position it has taken at the heart of modern life. Expanding beyond traditional philosophy, Critique of Freedom develops the building blocks of a critical theory of technology, environmental protection, economics, politics, medicine, and education. With a sophisticated yet straightforward style, Höffe draws on a range of disciplines in order to clearly distinguish and appreciate the many meanings of freedom and the indispensable role they play in liberal society.
Are the "culture wars" over? When did they begin? What is their relationship to gender struggle and the dynamics of class? In her first full treatment of postcolonial studies, a field that she helped define, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, one of the world's foremost literary theorists, poses these questions from within the postcolonial enclave.
What is the body? How was it culturally constructed, conceived, and cultivated before and after the advent of rationalism and modern science? This interdisciplinary study elaborates a cultural genealogy of the body and its legacies to modernity by tracing its crucial redefinition from a live anatomical entity to disembodied, mechanical and virtual analogs.
The study ranges from Baroque, pre-Cartesian interpretations of body and embodiment, to the Cartesian elaboration of ontological difference and mind-body dualism, and it concludes with the parodic and violent aftermath of this legacy to the French Enlightenment. It engages work by philosophical authors such as Montaigne, Descartes and La Mettrie, as well as literary works by d'Urfé, Corneille and the Marquis de Sade. The examination of sexuality and the emergence of sexual difference as a dominant mode of embodiment are central to the book's overall design. The work is informed by philosophical accounts of the body (Nietzsche, Foucault, Merleau-Ponty), by feminist theory (Butler, Irigaray, Bordo), as well as by literary and cultural historians (Scarry, Stewart, Bynum, etc.) and historians of science (Canguilhem, Pagel, and Temkin), among others. It will appeal to scholars of literature, philosophy, French studies, critical theory, feminist theory, cultural historians and historians of science and technology.
Dalia Judovitz is Professor of French, Emory University. She is also author of Unpacking Duchamp: Art in Transit and Subjectivity and Representation in Decartes: The Origins of Modernity.
For decades Continental theorists from Derrida to Deleuze have engaged in provocative, penetrating, and often extensive examinations of modern philosophers-studies that have opened up new ways to think about figures such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant. This volume, for the first time, gives this work its due. A systematic rereading of early modern philosophers in the light of recent Continental philosophy, it exposes overlooked but critical aspects of sixteenth- through eighteenth-century philosophy even as it brings to light certain historical assumptions that have colored-and distorted-our understanding of modernist thought. This volume thus retrieves modern thinkers from the modernistic ways in which they have been portrayed since the nineteenth century; at the same time, it enhances our view of the roots and concerns of current Continental thought.
What claims does the early modern period have on contemporary philosophy? How have recent theorists engaged this material, and why? In answer, some of these essays explore how major Continental theorists such as Derrida, Deleuze, Le Doeuff, Irigaray, Kristeva, and Althusser explicate the ideas of classical modern thinkers; others draw on recent Continental insights to examine the doctrines of modern philosophers beginning with Machiavelli and ending with Kant. Together they show how current Continental theory reinvigorates the study of the history of modern philosophers by transforming not only how we interpret their answers to certain questions, but also how we understand the very nature of these questions.
Before publishing his landmark Meditations in 1641, Rene Descartes sent his manuscript to many leading thinkers to solicit their objections to his arguments. He included these objections, along with his own detailed replies, as part of the first edition. This unusual strategy gave Descartes a chance to address criticisms in advance and to demonstrate his willingness to consider diverse viewpoints—critical in an age when radical ideas could result in condemnation by church and state, or even death.
Descartes and his Contemporaries recreates the tumultuous intellectual community of seventeenth-century Europe and provides a detailed, modern analysis of the Meditations in its historical context. The book's chapters examine the arguments and positions of each of the objectors—Hobbes, Gassendi, Arnauld, Morin, Caterus, Bourdin, and others whose views were compiled by Mersenne. They illuminate Descartes' relationships to the scholastics and particularly the Jesuits, to Mersenne's circle with its debates about the natural sciences, to the Epicurean movements of his day, and to the Augustinian tradition. Providing a glimpse of the interactions among leading 17th-century intellectuals as they grappled with major philosophical issues, this book sheds light on how Descartes' thought developed and was articulated in opposition to the ideas of his contemporaries.
Charles E. Winquist University of Chicago Press, 1994 Library of Congress BT28.W584 1995 | Dewey Decimal 230.01
One of the foremost scholars exploring the intersection of theology and continental philosophy, Charles E. Winquist argues for the possibility of theological thinking in a postmodern secular milieu. Moving beyond the now familiar reiteration of postmodernity's losses—the death of God, the displacement of the self, the end of history, the closure of the Book—Winquist equates a desire to think theologically with a desire, amidst postmodernity's disappointments, for a thinking that does not disappoint. To desire theology in this sense is to desire to know an "other" in and of language that can be valued in the forming of personal and communal identity. In this book, "desiring theology" carries another sense as well, for Winquist argues that, in the wake of psychoanalysis, theology must elaborate the meaning and importance of desire in its own discourse.
Winquist's work is tactical as well as theoretical, showing what kind of work theology can do in a postmodern age. He suggests that theology is closely akin to what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari refer to as a minor intensive use of a major language. The minor intensive theological use of language, Winquist argues, pressures the ordinary weave of discourse and opens it to desire. Thus theology becomes a work against "the disappointment of thinking." Deeply engaged with the work of Nietzsche, Derrida, Tillich, Robert P. Scharlemann, and Mark C. Taylor, among others, this book is a significant addition to contemporary theology.
The twentieth anniversary of the beatification of Edith Stein (1891–1942), the accomplished Jewish philosopher who made a spiritual journey from atheism to agnosticism before eventually converting to Catholicism, will be celebrated in 2007. In Edith Stein: Philosopher and Mystic, Josephine Koeppel chronicles the life of this influential saint from her secular youth and entrance into a German monastery to her tragic death at Auschwitz. This accessible work will reward readers of all faiths interested in the life of a remarkable woman who changed the modern conception of sainthood.
By the time Eric Voegelin fled Hitler’s regime and made his way to the United States in 1938, he had already written four books criticizing Nazi racism, establishing what would be the focus of his life’s work: to account for the endemic political violence of the twentieth century. One of the most original political philosophers of the period, Voegelin has largely avoided ideological labels or categorizations of his work. Because of this, however, and because no one work or volume of his can do justice to his overall project, his work has been seen as difficult to approach.
Drawing from the University of Missouri Press’s thirty-four-volume edition of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin (1990-2009), Charles Embry and Glenn Hughes have assembled a selection of representative works of Voegelin, satisfying a longstanding need for a single volume that can serve as a general introduction to Voegelin’s philosophy. The collection includes writings that demonstrate the range and creativity of Voegelin’s thought as it developed from 1956 until his death in 1985 in his search for the history of order in human society.
The Reader begins with excerpts from Autobiographical Reflections (1973), which include an orienting mixture of biographical information, philosophical motivations, and the scope of Voegelin’s project. It reflects key periods of Voegelin’s philosophical development, pivoting on his flight from the Gestapo.
The next section focuses on Voegelin’s understanding of the contemporary need to re-ground political science in a non-positivistic, post-Weberian outlook and method. It begins with Voegelin’s historical survey of science and scientism, followed by his explanation of what political science now requires in his introduction to The New Science of Politics. Also included are two essays that exemplify the practice of this “new science.” Voegelin started his academic career as a political scientist, and these early essays indicate his wide philosophical vision.
Voegelin recognized that a fully responsible “new science of politics” would require the development of a philosophy of history. This led to the writing of his magnum opus, the five-volume Order and History (1956–1985). This section of the Reader includes his introductions to volumes 1, 2 and 4 and his most essential accounts of the theoretical requirements and historical scope of a philosophy of history adequate to present-day scholarship and historical discoveries.
In the course of his career, Voegelin came to understand that political science, political philosophy, and philosophy of history must have as their theoretical nucleus a sound philosophical anthropology based on an accurate philosophy of human consciousness. The next set of writings consists of one late lecture and four late essays that exemplify how Voegelin recovers the wisdom of classical philosophy and the Western religious tradition while criticizing modern misrepresentations of consciousness. The result is Voegelin’s contemporary accounts of the nature of reason, the challenge of truly rational discussion, and the search for divine origins and the life of the human spirit.
During his philosophical journey, Voegelin addressed the historical situatedness of human existence, explicating the historicity of human consciousness in a manner that gave full due to the challenges of acknowledging both human immersion in the story of history and the ability of consciousness to arrive at philosophically valid truths about existence that are transhistorical. The essays in this final section present the culmination of his philosophical meditation on history, consciousness, and reality.
Michael Jackson Duke University Press, 2007 Library of Congress B804.J151 2007 | Dewey Decimal 128
A village in Sierra Leone. A refugee trail over the Pyrenees in French Catalonia. A historic copper mine in Sweden. The Shuf mountains in Lebanon. The Swiss Alps. The heart of the West African diaspora in southeast London. The anthropologist Michael Jackson makes his sojourns to each of these far-flung locations, and to his native New Zealand, occasions for exploring the contradictions and predicaments of social existence. He calls his explorations “excursions” not only because each involved breaking with settled routines and certainties, but because the image of an excursion suggests that thought is always on the way, the thinker a journeyman whose views are perpetually tested by encounters with others. Throughout Excursions, Jackson emphasizes the need for preconceptions and conventional mindsets to be replaced by the kind of open-minded critical engagement with the world that is the hallmark of cultural anthropology.
Focusing on the struggles and quandaries of everyday life, Jackson touches on matters at the core of anthropology—the state, violence, exile and belonging, labor, indigenous rights, narrative, power, home, and history. He is particularly interested in the gaps that characterize human existence, such as those between insularity and openness, between the things over which we have some control and the things over which we have none, and between ourselves and others as we talk past each other, missing each others’ meanings. Urging a recognition of the limits to which human existence can be explained in terms of cause and effect, he suggests that knowing why things happen may ultimately be less important than trying to understand how people endure in the face of hardship.
Existential philosophy has perhaps captured the public imagination more completely than any other philosophical movement in the twentieth century. But less is known about the phenomenological method lying behind existentialism. In this solid introduction to phenomenological philosophy, authors David Stewart and Algis Mickunas show that phenomenology is neither new nor bizarre but is a contemporary way of raising afresh the major problems of philosophy that have dominated the traditions of Western thought. The authors carefully lead the reader trough the maze of terminology, explaining the major problems phenomenology has treated and showing how these are a consistent extension of the traditional concerns of philosophy.
In concise, uncluttered, and straightforward terms, the history, development, and contemporary status of phenomenology is explained with a copiously annotated bibliography following each chapter. Nothing in print combines the extensive introductory materials with a guide to the massive literature that has been produced by phenomenological and existential studies.
In his explorations of the relations between the sacred and violence, René Girard has hit upon the origin of culture—the way culture began, the way it continues to organize itself. The way communities of human beings structure themselves in a manner that is different from that of other species on the planet.
Like Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim, Martin Buber, or others who have changed the way we think in the humanities or in the human sciences, Girard has put forth a set of ideas that have altered our perceptions of the world in which we function. We will never be able to think the same way again about mimetic desire, about the scapegoat mechanism, and about the role of Jewish and Christian scripture in explaining sacrifice, violence, and the crises from which our culture has been born.
The contributions fall into roughly four areas of interpretive work: religion and religious study; literary study; the philosophy of social science; and psychological studies.
The essays presented here are offered as "essays" in the older French sense of attempts (essayer) or trials of ideas, as indeed Girard has tried out ideas with us. With a conscious echo of Montaigne, then, this hommage volume is titled Essays in Friendship and in Truth.
Roberto Calasso University of Minnesota Press, 2001 Library of Congress BH39.C2913 2001 | Dewey Decimal 190
The first treatment of contemporary thought by the acclaimed cultural critic.
In books lauded as "brilliant,"* "exhilarating,"** and "profound,"*** Roberto Calasso has revealed the unexpected intersections of ancient and modern through topics ranging from Greek and Indian mythology to what a legendary African kingdom can tell us about the French Revolution. In this first translation of his most important essays, Calasso brings his powerful intellect and elegant prose style to bear on the essential thinkers of our time, providing a sweeping analysis of the current state of Western culture.
"Forty-nine steps" refers to the Talmudic doctrine that there are forty-nine steps to meaning in every passage of the Torah. Employing this interpretive approach, Calasso offers a "secret history" of European literature and philosophy in the wake of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud. Calasso analyzes how figures ranging from Gustav Flaubert, Gottfried Benn, Karl Kraus, Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, Franz Kafka, Bertolt Brecht, and Theodor Adorno have contributed to, or been emblematic of, the current state of Western thought. The book's theme, writ large, is the power of fable-specifically, its persistence in art and literature despite its exclusion from orthodox philosophy.
In its breadth and the nature of its concerns, The Forty-nine Steps is a philosophical and literary twin to the widely-praised The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony. Combining erudition with engaging prose and original insights, Calasso contributes a daring new interpretation of some of the most challenging writers of the past 150 years.
Roberto Calasso is the author of The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (1993), The Ruin of Kasch (1994), Ka (1998), and Literature and the Gods (2000). He is the publisher of Adelphi Edizioni and lives in Milan.
John Shepley is a freelance writer and translator who lives in New York City. His translation of Pasolini's Roman Nights and Other Stories won the first Italo Calvino Translation Award in 1987.
In From Kant to Husserl, Charles Parsons examines a wide range of historical opinion on philosophical questions from mathematics to phenomenology. Amplifying his early ideas on Kant’s philosophy of arithmetic, the author then turns to reflections on Frege, Brentano, and Husserl.
The German volume Gadamer Lesebuch [A Gadamer Reader] (1997), selected and edited by Jean Grondin in consultation with Hans-Georg Gadamer himself, contains a set of essays that present a cross section of writings by one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. The volume begins with an autobiographical sketch and culminates in a conversation with Jean Grondin that looks back over a lifetime of productive philosophical work. The essays not already available in English have here been translated by Richard E. Palmer, a respected translator of Gadamer's writings. The sixteen essays contained in the Lesebuch are augmented here by three other essays: Gadamer's last essay on Derrida, "Hermeneutics Tracking the Trace" (1994) and two essays on practical philosophy. The Gadamer Reader: A Bouquet of the Later Writings richly conveys the scope and depth of Gadamer's thought, covering the range of his work in hermeneutics, aesthetics, practical philosophy, and essays on Plato, Hegel, and Heidegger. In addition, Palmer offers introductory remarks before each essay that explain its importance in the context of Gadamer's writings and define its key terms. Throughout, in both his translation and commentary, his aim is to make this critically important philosopher as clear and accessible as possible to an English-speaking audience.
Hegel and Deleuze cannily examines the various resonances and dissonances between these two major philosophers. The collection represents the best in contemporary international scholarship on G. W. F. Hegel and Gilles Deleuze, and the contributing authors inhabit the as-yet uncharted space between the two thinkers, collectively addressing most of the major tensions and resonances between their ideas and laying a solid ground for future scholarship.
The essays are organized thematically into two groups: those that maintain a firm but nuanced disjunction or opposition between Hegel and Deleuze, and those that chart possible connections, syntheses, or both. As is clear from this range of texts, the challenges involved in grasping, appraising, appropriating, and developing the systems of Deleuze and Hegel are varied and immense. While neither Hegel nor Deleuze gets the last word, the contributors ably demonstrate that partisans of either can no longer ignore the voice of the other.
In this groundbreaking work, Richard L. Velkley examines the complex philosophical relationship between Martin Heidegger and Leo Strauss. Velkley argues that both thinkers provide searching analyses of the philosophical tradition’s origins in radical questioning. For Heidegger and Strauss, the recovery of the original premises of philosophy cannot be separated from rethinking the very possibility of genuine philosophizing.
Common views of the influence of Heidegger’s thought on Strauss suggest that, after being inspired early on by Heidegger’s dismantling of the philosophical tradition, Strauss took a wholly separate path, spurning modernity and pursuing instead a renewal of Socratic political philosophy. Velkley rejects this reading and maintains that Strauss’s engagement with the challenges posed by Heidegger—as well as by modern philosophy in general—formed a crucial and enduring framework for his lifelong philosophical project. More than an intellectual biography or a mere charting of influence, Heidegger, Strauss, and the Premises of Philosophy is a profound consideration of these two philosophers’ reflections on the roots, meaning, and fate of Western rationalism.
History and Truth
Paul Ricoeur, Foreward by David M. Rasmussen, Introduction by Charles Kelbley Northwestern University Press, 2007 Library of Congress B2430.R552E5 2007 | Dewey Decimal 901
In this volume, Paul Ricoeur investigates the antinomy between history and truth, or between historicity and meaning. He argues that history has meaning insofar as it approaches universality and system, but has no meaning insofar as this universality violates the singularity of individuals' lives. Imposing unity upon truth, or unifying the diversity of knowledge and opinion, creates a singular and universal history but destroys historicity and subjectivity. Allowing for singularities in history promotes a multiplicity of truths over a single, unique truth, and thereby annihilates system
From Kant to Kierkegaard, from Hegel to Heidegger, continental philosophers have indelibly shaped the trajectory of Western thought since the eighteenth century. Although much has been written about these monumental thinkers, students and scholars lack a definitive guide to the entire scope of the continental tradition. The most comprehensive reference work to date, this eight-volume History of Continental Philosophy will both encapsulate the subject and reorient our understanding of it. Beginning with an overview of Kant’s philosophy and its initial reception, the History traces the evolution of continental philosophy through major figures as well as movements such as existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and poststructuralism. The final volume outlines the current state of the field, bringing the work of both historical and modern thinkers to bear on such contemporary topics as feminism, globalization, and the environment. Throughout, the volumes examine important philosophical figures and developments in their historical, political, and cultural contexts.
The first reference of its kind, A History of Continental Philosophy has been written and edited by internationally recognized experts with a commitment to explaining complex thinkers, texts, and movements in rigorous yet jargon-free essays suitable for both undergraduates and seasoned specialists. These volumes also elucidate ongoing debates about the nature of continental and analytic philosophy, surveying the distinctive, sometimes overlapping characteristics and approaches of each tradition. Featuring helpful overviews of major topics and plotting road maps to their underlying contexts, A History of Continental Philosophy is destined to be the resource of first and last resort for students and scholars alike.
From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, new anatomical investigations of the brain and the nervous system, together with a renewed interest in comparative anatomy, allowed doctors and philosophers to ground their theories on sense perception, the emergence of human intelligence, and the soul/body relationship in modern science. They investigated the anatomical structures and the physiological processes underlying the rise, differentiation, and articulation of human cognitive activities, and looked for the “anatomical roots” of the specificity of human intelligence when compared to other forms of animal sensibility.
This edited volume focuses on medical and philosophical debates on human intelligence and animal perception in the early modern age, providing fresh insights into the influence of medical discourse on the rise of modern philosophical anthropology. Contributions from distinguished historians of philosophy and medicine focus on sixteenth-century zoological, psychological, and embryological discourses on man; the impact of mechanism and comparative anatomy on philosophical conceptions of body and soul; and the key status of sensibility in the medical and philosophical enlightenment.
Positioning itself within the Continental tradition, Inscriptions is an interwoven set of investigations into the differences between phenomenology and structuralism, and a cohesive and thoroughgoing inquiry into the contemporary status of Continental philosophy.
In Inscriptions, Hugh J. Silverman investigates two divergent yet related philosophical movements: phenomenology from the later Husserl through Sartre and Heidegger to Merleau-Ponty, and structuralism from de Saussure through Levi-Strauss and Lacan to Barthes. This reading of the tradition culminates in an assessment of Derrida and Foucault. From this foundation, Silverman moves beyond structuralism and phenomenology, and develops his own philosophical position in the context of semiotics, hermeneutics, and deconstruction. A new preface by the author updates this classic text.
In a sense it would be inappropriate to speak of “Hegel’s system of philosophy,” because Hegel thought that in the strict sense there is only one system of philosophy evolving in the Western world. In Hegel’s view, although at times philosophy’s history seems to be a chaotic series of crisscrossing interpretations of meanings and values, with no consensus, there has been a teleological development and consistent progress in philosophy and philosophizing from the beginning; Hegel held that his own version of “German idealism” was simply bringing to final expression the latest refinements of an ongoing, perennial system.
If we take Hegel at his word, then one of the best entries into his system would be through the history of philosophy, showing how systems and schools of thought prior to Hegel led up to his system. The most important currents to focus on, however, would be in modern philosophy, in which especially intensive changes led ultimately to German idealism and Hegel’s immediate predecessors.
Fortunately, Hegel lectured extensively on the history of modern philosophy and structured his lectures in such a way as to throw light on the status of the “one system” of Western philosophy at the time — the status to which Hegel felt he had been contributing and was continuing to contribute. These lectures are of interest, first of all, as a systematic chronicle of philosophical positions in the heyday of modern philosophy, from Bacon to Hegel. Second, they are interesting because Hegel’s critical comments on his predecessors clarify his own positions: for example, the dialectic method and the importance of triplicity, the relationship of philosophy to the scientific method, the necessity for avoidance of the extremes of empiricism and of idealism, the subject/object problematic, the “identity” of rationality and reality, and the technical meaning in Hegel’s philosophy of “absolute,” “infinity,” and the “idea.”
Why is the world orderly, and how does this order come to be? Human beings inhabit a multitude of apparently ordered systems—natural, social, political, economic, cognitive, and others—whose origins and purposes are often obscure. In the eighteenth century, older certainties about such orders, rooted in either divine providence or the mechanical operations of nature, began to fall away. In their place arose a new appreciation for the complexity of things, a new recognition of the world’s disorder and randomness, new doubts about simple relations of cause and effect—but with them also a new ability to imagine the world’s orders, whether natural or manmade, as self-organizing. If large systems are left to their own devices, eighteenth-century Europeans increasingly came to believe, order will emerge on its own without any need for external design or direction.
In Invisible Hands, Jonathan Sheehan and Dror Wahrman trace the many appearances of the language of self-organization in the eighteenth-century West. Across an array of domains, including religion, society, philosophy, science, politics, economy, and law, they show how and why this way of thinking came into the public view, then grew in prominence and arrived at the threshold of the nineteenth century in versatile, multifarious, and often surprising forms. Offering a new synthesis of intellectual and cultural developments, Invisible Hands is a landmark contribution to the history of the Enlightenment and eighteenth-century culture.
In his latest book, the prolific writer and thinker Alphonso Lingis brings interdisciplinarity and lyrical philosophizing to the weight of reality, the weight of things, and the weight of life itself. Drawing from philosophy, anthropology, psychology, religion, and science, Lingis seeks to uncover what in our reality escapes our attempts at measuring and categorizing. Writing as much from his own experiences and those of others as from his longstanding engagement with phenomenology and existentialism, Irrevocable studies the world in which shadows, reflections, halos, and reverberations count as much as the carpentry of things.
Whether describing religious art and ritual, suffering, war and disease, the pleasures of love, the wonders of nature, archaeological findings, surfing, volcanoes, or jellyfish, Lingis writes with equal measures of rigor and abandon about the vicissitudes of our practices and beliefs. Knowing that birth, the essential encounters in our lives, crippling diseases and accidents, and even death are all determined by chance, how do we recognize and understand such chance? After facing tragedies, what makes it possible to live on while recognizing our irrevocable losses?
Lingis’s investigations are accompanied by his own vivid photographs from around the world. Balancing the local and the global, and ranging across vast expanses of culture and time, Irrevocable sounds the depths of both our passions and our impassioned bodies and minds.
Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration
Edited by Edna Ullmann-Margalit and Avishai Margalit University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress D16.8.I76 1991 | Dewey Decimal 901
Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration gathers tributes, reflections, and commentaries on the great thinker and his philosophy, politics, and life-including contributions from Michael Ignatieff, Leon Wieseltier, Ronald Dworkin, Stephen Spender, and many others.
"Some [essays], like Joseph Brodsky's tribute, are touchingly personal. Others, like G. A. Cohen's 'Isaiah's Marx, and Mine,' mingle personal reminiscences with a more theoretical look at Berlin's ideas. . . . The volume is a fitting tribute to a thinker famed for his erudition, eclecticism, and clarity of style."—Merle Rubin, The Christian Science Monitor
"One of the many merits of this rich and rewarding collection is the sense-very imperfectly conveyed here-it transmits of the tone of Berlin's writings and conversation, of the multiplicity of his interests and the variety of his achievements. . . . The essays testify to the character of Berlin's mind as a luminous prism, in which the cultural traditions of Russia, England and Judaism are marvelously refracted."—John Gray, Times Literary Supplement
"[T]he collection testifies to the learning and profundity of Berlin's thought and, by way both of reminiscence and influence, to the charm and gaity of its expression."—Anthony Quinton, The Times of London
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.
This collection of essays argues that any valid theory of the modern should—indeed must—reckon with the medieval. Offering a much-needed correction to theorists such as Hans Blumenberg, who in his Legitimacy of the Modern Age describes the "modern age" as a complete departure from the Middle Ages, these essays forcefully show that thinkers from Adorno to Žižek have repeatedly drawn from medieval sources to theorize modernity. To forget the medieval, or to discount its continued effect on contemporary thought, is to neglect the responsibilities of periodization.
In The Legitimacy of the Middle Ages, modernists and medievalists, as well as scholars specializing in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century comparative literature, offer a new history of theory and philosophy through essays on secularization and periodization, Marx’s (medieval) theory of commodity fetishism, Heidegger’s scholasticism, and Adorno’s nominalist aesthetics. One essay illustrates the workings of medieval mysticism in the writing of Freud’s most famous patient, Daniel Paul Schreber, author of Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (1903). Another looks at Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire, a theoretical synthesis whose conscientious medievalism was the subject of much polemic in the post-9/11 era, a time in which premodernity itself was perceived as a threat to western values. The collection concludes with an afterword by Fredric Jameson, a theorist of postmodernism who has engaged with the medieval throughout his career.
Contributors: Charles D. Blanton, Andrew Cole, Kathleen Davis, Michael Hardt, Bruce Holsinger, Fredric Jameson, Ethan Knapp, Erin Labbie, Jed Rasula, D. Vance Smith, Michael Uebel
It is considerably easier to say that modern philosophy began with Descartes than it is to define the modernity and philosophy to which Descartes gave rise. In Lines of Thought, Claudia Brodsky Lacour describes the double origin of modern philosophy in Descartes’s Discours de la méthode and Géométrie, works whose interrelation, she argues, reveals the specific nature of the modern in his thought. Her study examines the roles of discourse and writing in Cartesian method and intuition, and the significance of graphic architectonic form in the genealogy of modern philosophy. While Cartesianism has long served as a synonym for rationalism, the contents of Descartes’s method and cogito have remained infamously resistant to rational analysis. Similarly, although modern phenomenological analyses descend from Descartes’s notion of intuition, the “things” Cartesian intuitions represent bear no resemblance to phenomena. By returning to what Descartes calls the construction of his “foundation” in the Discours, Brodsky Lacour identifies the conceptual problems at the root of Descartes’s literary and aesthetic theory as well as epistemology. If, for Descartes, linear extension and “I” are the only “things” we can know exist, the Cartesian subject of thought, she shows, derives first from the intersection of discourse and drawing, representation and matter. The crux of that intersection, Brodsky Lacour concludes, is and must be the cogito, Descartes’s theoretical extension of thinking into material being. Describable in accordance with the Géométrie as a freely constructed line of thought, the cogito, she argues, extends historically to link philosophy with theories of discursive representation and graphic delineation after Descartes. In conclusion, Brodsky Lacour analyzes such a link in the writings of Claude Perrault, the architectural theorist whose reflections on beauty helped shape the seventeenth-century dispute between “the ancients and the moderns.” Part of a growing body of literary and interdisciplinary considerations of philosophical texts, Lines of Thought will appeal to theorists and historians of literature, architecture, art, and philosophy, and those concerned with the origin and identity of the modern.
Is our logical form of thought merely one among many, or must it be the form of thought as such? From Kant to Wittgenstein, philosophers have wrestled with variants of this question. This volume brings together nine distinguished thinkers on the subject, including James Conant, author of the seminal paper “The Search for Logically Alien Thought.”
Two centuries after his birth, Karl Marx is read almost solely through the lens of Marxism, his works examined for how they fit into the doctrine that was developed from them after his death.
With Marx’s Dream, Tom Rockmore offers a much-needed alternative view, distinguishing rigorously between Marx and Marxism. Rockmore breaks with the Marxist view of Marx in three key ways. First, he shows that the concern with the relation of theory to practice—reflected in Marx’s famous claim that philosophers only interpret the world, while the point is to change it—arose as early as Socrates, and has been central to philosophy in its best moments. Second, he seeks to free Marx from his unsolicited Marxist embrace in order to consider his theory on its own merits. And, crucially, Rockmore relies on the normal standards of philosophical debate, without the special pleading to which Marxist accounts too often resort. Marx’s failures as a thinker, Rockmore shows, lie less in his diagnosis of industrial capitalism’s problems than in the suggested remedies, which are often unsound.
Only a philosopher of Rockmore’s stature could tackle a project this substantial, and the results are remarkable: a fresh Marx, unencumbered by doctrine and full of insights that remain salient today.
Mastering Discourse gathers and elaborates more than a decade of thought on the problems of the intellectual in contemporary society, by one of the most distinguished critics writing on these issues today. From Derrida and Foucault to Kristeva and Irigaray, Paul A. Bové looks at the practices of literary and cultural theory, and discusses the way theorists have produced their institutional positions and politics. Examining some of the major theories developed out of and in relation to the problems of discourse, Bové analyzes the limited successes and failures of these efforts. Mastering Discourses offers an account of why "theory" fails to deal adequately with the politics of discursive cultures and warns that unless critics take much more seriously their own disciplinary inscriptions they will always reproduce structures of power and knowledge that they claim to oppose. Moreover, Bové argues, they will not fulfill the main role of the post-enlightenment intellectual, namely: to respond effectively to the present, through new theoretical and historical formulations that address the changing world of transnational capitalism and its neoliberal ideologies.
The Merleau-Ponty Reader
Leonard Lawlor and Ted Toadvine Northwestern University Press, 2007 Library of Congress B804.M383 2007 | Dewey Decimal 194
The first reader to offer a comprehensive view of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's (1908-1961) work, this selection collects in one volume the foundational essays necessary for understanding the core of this critical twentieth-century philosopher's thought.
Arranged chronologically, the essays are grouped in three sections corresponding to the major periods of Merleau-Ponty's work: First, the years prior to his appointment to the Sorbonne in 1949, the early, existentialist period during which he wrote important works on the phenomenology of perception and the primacy of perception; second, the years of his work as professor of child psychology and pedagogy at the Sorbonne, period especially concerned with language; and finally, his years as chair of modern philosophy at the College de France, a time devoted to the articulation of a new ontology and philosophy of nature. The editors, who provide an interpretive introduction, also include previously unpublished working notes found in Merleau-Ponty's papers after his death. Translations of all selections have been updated and several appear here in English for the first time.
By contextualizing Merleau-Ponty's writings on the philosophy of art and politics within the overall development of his thought, this volume allows readers to see both the breadth of his contribution to twentieth-century philosophy and the convergence of the various strands of his reflection.
Winner of the 2020 Edward Goodwin Ballard Prize in Phenomenology
Merleau-Ponty's Developmental Ontology shows how the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, from its very beginnings, seeks to find sense or meaning within nature, and how this quest calls for and develops into a radically new ontology.
David Morris first gives an illuminating analysis of sense, showing how it requires understanding nature as engendering new norms. He then presents innovative studies of Merleau-Ponty's The Structure of Behavior and Phenomenology of Perception, revealing how these early works are oriented by the problem of sense and already lead to difficulties about nature, temporality, and ontology that preoccupy Merleau-Ponty's later work. Morris shows how resolving these difficulties requires seeking sense through its appearance in nature, prior to experience—ultimately leading to radically new concepts of nature, time, and philosophy.
Merleau-Ponty's Developmental Ontology makes key issues in Merleau-Ponty's philosophy clear and accessible to a broad audience while also advancing original philosophical conclusions.
Originally published in 1988, M.C. Dillon's classic study of Merleau-Ponty is now available in a revised second edition containing a new preface and a new chapter on "Truth in Art." Dillon's thesis is that Merleau-Ponty has developed the first genuine alternative to ontological dualism seen in Western philosophy. From his early work on the philosophical significance of the human body to his later ontology of flesh, Merleau-Ponty shows that the perennial problems growing out of dualistic conceptions of mind and body, subject and object, immanence and transcendence can be resolved within the framework of a new way of thinking based on the exemplar of the worldly embodiment of thought.
For decades, scholars have been calling into question the universality of disciplinary objects and categories. The coherence of defined autonomous categories—such as religion, science, and art—has collapsed under the weight of postmodern critiques, calling into question the possibility of progress and even the value of knowledge. Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm aims to radicalize and move beyond these deconstructive projects to offer a path forward for the humanities and social sciences using a new model for theory he calls metamodernism.
Metamodernism works through the postmodern critiques and uncovers the mechanisms that produce and maintain concepts and social categories. In so doing, Storm provides a new, radical account of society’s ever-changing nature—what he calls a “Process Social Ontology”—and its materialization in temporary zones of stability or “social kinds.” Storm then formulates a fresh approach to philosophy of language by looking beyond the typical theorizing that focuses solely on human language production, showing us instead how our own sign-making is actually on a continuum with animal and plant communication.
Storm also considers fundamental issues of the relationship between knowledge and value, promoting a turn toward humble, emancipatory knowledge that recognizes the existence of multiple modes of the real. Metamodernism is a revolutionary manifesto for research in the human sciences that offers a new way through postmodern skepticism to envision a more inclusive future of theory in which new forms of both progress and knowledge can be realized.
For much of his career, British political philosopher Michael Oakeshott was identified with Margaret Thatcher’s conservative policies. He has been called by some a guru to the Tories, while others have considered him one of the last proponents of British Idealism. Best known for such books as Experience and Its Modes and Rationalism in Politics, Oakeshott has been the subject of numerous studies, but always with an emphasis on his political thought.
Elizabeth Campbell Corey now makes the case that Oakeshott’s moral and political philosophies are more informed by religious and aesthetic considerations than has previously been supposed. Hers is the first book-length study of this premise, arguing that Oakeshott’s views on aesthetics, religion, and morality are intimately linked in a creative moral personality that underlies his political theorizing.
Corey focuses on a wealth of early material from Oakeshott’s career that has only recently been published, as well as his acclaimed “Tower of Babel” essays, to show that these works illuminate his thinking in ways that could not have been realized prior to their publication. She places Oakeshott squarely in the Augustinian tradition, citing his 1929 essay “Religion and the World,” and then identifies his departure from it. She explores Oakeshott’s recurring theme of “living one’s life in the present”; examines his explicit discussions of religion, aesthetics, and morality; and then considers his political thought in light of this moral vision. She finally compares his idea of Rationalism to Eric Voegelin’s concept of
Gnosticism and considers both thinkers’ treatment of Hobbes to delineate their philosophical differences.
Through this insightful analysis, Corey shows Oakeshott to be not merely a political philosopher but a thinker with humanistic interests—one who throughout his life was deeply interested in the question of what it means to be human and was moved by art, poetry, and religion while recognizing the necessary evil of political arrangements in order for those activities to flourish. Her work is a major step in a reevaluation of Oakeshott, showing that his conservatism has been greatly misunderstood and that he is more properly regarded as a philosopher whose vision of the human condition, while oftentimes detached and skeptical, is also romantic and inspired.
The polymath Michael Polanyi first made his mark as a physical chemist, but his interests gradually shifted to economics, politics, and philosophy, in which field he would ultimately propose a revolutionary theory of knowledge that grew out of his firsthand experience with both the scientific method and political totalitarianism. In this sixth entry in ISI Books’ Library of Modern Thinkers’ series, Mark T. Mitchell reveals how Polanyi came to recognize that the roots of the modern political and spiritual crisis lay in an errant conception of knowledge that served to foreclose any possibility of making meaningful statements about truth, goodness, or beauty. Polanyi’s theory of knowledge as ineluctably personal but also grounded in reality is not merely of historical interest, writes Mitchell, for it proposes an attractive alternative for anyone who would reject both the hubris of modern rationalism and the ultimately nihilistic implications of academic postmodernism.
Rémi Brague St. Augustine's Press, 2017 Library of Congress B805.B68713 2017 | Dewey Decimal 190
The Modern Age
James V. Schall St. Augustine's Press, 2011 Library of Congress B72.S325 2010 | Dewey Decimal 190
The Modern Turn
Michael Rohlf Catholic University of America Press, 2017 Library of Congress B790.M63 2017 | Dewey Decimal 190
What is the modern turn in philosophy? In other words, what are the features that make modern philosophy distinctively “modern” in contrast with the pre-modern philosophy from which it emerged – for example, medieval scholasticism, Renaissance philosophy, and ancient Greek and Roman thought? How did the modern turn in philosophy transpire? That is, what did specific philosophers contribute that shaped the distinctive character of modern philosophy? The twelve essays in this volume seek to address these questions, and in doing so they exemplify and contribute to a rich debate about the nature and value of modern philosophy.
This volume approaches the modern turn not as an event that occurred all at once, but rather as a series of shifts in different areas of philosophy at different times. The essays are arranged broadly in chronological order of the topics they treat. Among the themes that recur most often in these essays are, first, that modern philosophy is characteristically preoccupied with questions about foundations and, second, that it ultimately prioritizes practice over theory. But the virtues of this text is in presenting a wide range or perspectives on modern philosophy – what constitutes it as modern, when it arose, and what its shortcomings may be.
Modernity on Endless Trial
Leszek Kolakowski University of Chicago Press, 1990 Library of Congress CB430.K64 1990 | Dewey Decimal 909.82
Leszek Kolakowski delves into some of the most intellectually vigorous questions of our time in this remarkable collection of essays garnished with his characteristic wit. Ten of the essays have never appeared before in English.
"Exemplary. . . . It should be celebrated." —Arthur C. Danto, New York Times Book Review
"This book . . . express[es] Kolakowski's thought on God, man, reason, history, moral truth and original sin, prompted by observation of the dramatic struggle among Christianity, the Enlightenment and modern totalitarianism. It is a wonderful collection of topics." —Thomas Nagel, Times Literary Supplement
"No better antidote to bumper-sticker thinking exists than this collection of 24 'appeals for moderation in consistency,' and never has such an antidote been needed more than it is now." —Joseph Coates, Chicago Tribune
"Whether learned or humorous, these essays offer gems in prose of diamond hardness, precision, and brilliance." —Thomas D'Evelyn, The Christian Science Monitor
A "Notable Books of the Year 1991" selection, New York Times Book Review—a "Noted with Pleasure" selection, New York Times Book Review—a "Summer Reading 1991" selection, New York Times Book Review—a "Books of the Year" selection, The Times.
A great many theorists have argued that the defining feature of modernity is that people no longer believe in spirits, myths, or magic. Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm argues that as broad cultural history goes, this narrative is wrong, as attempts to suppress magic have failed more often than they have succeeded. Even the human sciences have been more enchanted than is commonly supposed. But that raises the question: How did a magical, spiritualist, mesmerized Europe ever convince itself that it was disenchanted?
Josephson-Storm traces the history of the myth of disenchantment in the births of philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. Ironically, the myth of mythless modernity formed at the very time that Britain, France, and Germany were in the midst of occult and spiritualist revivals. Indeed, Josephson-Storm argues, these disciplines’ founding figures were not only aware of, but profoundly enmeshed in, the occult milieu; and it was specifically in response to this burgeoning culture of spirits and magic that they produced notions of a disenchanted world.
By providing a novel history of the human sciences and their connection to esotericism, The Myth of Disenchantment dispatches with most widely held accounts of modernity and its break from the premodern past.
Adam Zachary Newton Harvard University Press, 1995 Library of Congress PN49.N52 1995 | Dewey Decimal 809.39353
The ethics of literature, formalists have insisted, resides in the moral quality of a character, a story, perhaps the relation between author and reader. But in the wake of deconstruction and various forms of criticism focusing on difference, the ethical question has been freshly negotiated by literary studies, and to this approach Adam Newton brings a startling new thrust. His book makes a compelling case for understanding narrative as ethics. Assuming an intrinsic and necessary connection between the two, Newton explores the ethical consequences of telling stories and fictionalizing character, and the reciprocal claims binding teller, listener, witness, and reader in the process. He treats these relations as defining properties of prose fiction, of particular import in nineteenth- and twentieth-century texts.
Newton's fresh and nuanced readings cover a wide range of authors and periods, from Charles Dickens to Kazuo Ishiguro and Julian Barnes, from Herman Melville to Richard Wright, from Joseph Conrad and Henry James to Sherwood Anderson and Stephen Crane. An original work of theory as well as a deft critical performance, Narrative Ethics also stakes a claim for itself as moral inquiry. To that end, Newton braids together the ethical-philosophical projects of Emmanuel Levinas, Stanley Cavell, and Mikhail Bakhtin as a kind of chorus for his textual analyses--an elegant bridge between philosophy's ear and literary criticism's voice. His work will generate enormous interest among scholars and students of English and American literature, as well as specialists in narrative and literary theory, hermeneutics, and contemporary philosophy.
Table of Contents:
Narrative as Ethics Toward a Narrative Ethics We Die in a Last Word: Conrad's Lord Jimand Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio Lessons of (for) the Master: Short Fiction by Henry James Creating the Uncreated Features of His Face: Monstration in Crane, Melville, and Wright Telling Others: Secrecy and Recognition in Dickens, Barnes, and Ishiguro Conclusion
Reviews of this book: Newton's book will become a pivotal text in our discussions of the ethical implications of reading. He has taken into account a great deal of prior work, and written with judgment and wisdom. --Daniel Schwartz, Narrative
Reviews of this book: Newton offers elegant, provocative readings of texts ranging from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to Winesburg, Ohio, The Remains of the Day, and Bleak House...Newton's book is a rich vein of critical ore that can be mined profitably. --Choice
Reading Narrative Ethics is a powerful experience, for it engages not just the intellect, but the emotions, and dare I say, the spirit. It stands apart from recent books on ethics in literature by virtue of its severe insistence o its allegiance to an alternative ethical tradition. This alternative way of thinking--and living--has its roots in the work of the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and finds support in the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin and Stanley Cavell...Stories, Newton asserts, are not ethical because of their morals or because of their normative logic. They are ethical because of the work they perform, in the social world, of binding teller, listener, witness, and reader to one another...This is a work of passion, integrity, commitment, and mission. --Jay Clayton, Vanderbilt University
Newton probes with admirable subtlety the key question: what do we gain--and what dangers do we run--when we fully enter the life of an 'other' through that 'other's' story? We have here a rare combination of deep and learned critical acumen with passionate love for literature and sensitivity to its nuances. --Wayne C. Booth, University of Chicago
Adam Zachary Newton writes with illuminating passion. Drawing on writers as diverse as Conrad and Henry James, Melville and Sherwood Anderson, Bakhtin and Levinas, he asks what it is to turn one's life into a story for another, and what it is to respond to, or avoid the claim of, another person's narration. He has written a wonderful, important book. --Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago
Following on F. A. Hayek's previous work Studies in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (1967), New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and the History of Ideas collects some of Hayek's most notable essays and lectures dealing with problems of philosophy, politics and economics, with many of the essays falling into more than one of these categories. Expanding upon the previous volume the present work also includes a fourth part collecting a series of Hayek's writings under the heading 'History of Ideas.'
Of the articles contained in this volume the lectures on 'The Errors of Constructivism' (chapter 1) and 'Competition as a Discovery Procedure' (chapter 12) have been published before only in German, while the article on 'Liberalism' (chapter 9) was written in English to be published in an Italian translation in the Enciclopedia del Novicento by the Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana at Rome.
Nietzsche and Asian Thought
Edited by Graham Parkes University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress B3318.O75N54 1991 | Dewey Decimal 193
Friedrich Nietzsche's work has had a significant impact on the intellectual life of non-Western cultures and elicited responses from important thinkers outside of the Anglo-American philosophical traditions as well. Bringing together thirteen internationally renowned scholars, this is the first collection of essays to address the connection between Nietzsche's ideas and philosphies in India, China, and Japan.
The contributors are Roger T. Ames, Johann Figl, Chen Guying, Michel Hulin, Arifuku Kogaku, David A. Kelly, Glen T. Martin, Sonoda Muneto, Graham Parkes, okochi Ryogi, Eberhard Scheiffele, Mervyn Sprung, and Joan Stambaugh.
"Exemplary. Its comparative approach is incisive yet accessible. I consider it a 'must read'"—Kathleen Marie Higgins, Philosophy East and West
"An excellent introduction to the broad ranging reception of Nietzsche among Asian thinkers."—James R. Watson, Canadian Philosophical Review
"The essays in this welcome collection are invariably thought-provoking and genuinely cross-disciplinary."—Kenneth Surin, Religious Studies Review
"A worthy and undogmatic introduction to several fascinating questions concerning the relations between Nietzschean thought and certain traditions of thought in India, China, and Japan."—Don Miller, Asian Studies Review
Among the most influential and enigmatic thinkers of the modern age, Nietzsche and Heidegger have become pivotal in the struggle to define postmodernism. In this work, Gregory Smith offers the most comprehensive examination to date of the turn to postmodernity in the writings of these philosophers.
Smith argues that, while much of postmodern thought is rooted in Nietzsche and Heidegger, it has ironically attempted, whether unwittingly or by design, to deflect their philosophy back onto a modern path. Other alternative paths emanating from both Nietzschean and Heideggerian thought that might more powerfully speak to postmodern culture have been ignored. Nietzsche and Heidegger, Smith suggests, have made possible a far more revolutionary critique of modernity then even their most ardent postmodern admirers have realized.
Smith contends that the influences on the postmodern in the thought of Nietzsche and Heidegger are founded in a new vision of praxis liberated from theory. Ultimately, these philosophers do transcend the nihilism often found in the guise of postmodernism. Their thought is, moreover, consistent with the possibility of limited constitutional government and the rule of law. Smith's book takes the first step toward recovering these possibilities and posing the fundamental questions of politics and ethics in ways that have heretofore been closed off by late-modern thought.
Appearing between two historical touchstones—the alleged end of communism and the 100th anniversary of Nietzsche’s death—this book offers a provocative hypothesis about the philosopher’s afterlife and the fate of leftist thought and culture. At issue is the relation of the dead Nietzsche (corpse) and his written work (corpus) to subsequent living Nietzscheanism across the political spectrum, but primarily among a leftist corps that has been programmed and manipulated by concealed dimensions of the philosopher’s thought. If anyone is responsible for what Geoff Waite maintains is the illusory death of communism, it is Nietzsche, the man and concept. Waite advances his argument by bringing Marxist—especially Gramscian and Althusserian—theories to bear on the concept of Nietzsche/anism. But he also goes beyond ideological convictions to explore the vast Nietzschean influence that proliferates throughout the marketplace of contemporary philosophy, political and literary theory, and cultural and technocultural criticism. In light of a philological reconstruction of Nietzsche’s published and unpublished texts, Nietzsche’s Corps/e shuttles between philosophy and everyday popular culture and shows them to be equally significant in their having been influenced by Nietzsche—in however distorted a form and in a way that compromises all of our best interests. Controversial in its “decelebration” of Nietzsche, this remarkable study asks whether the postcontemporary age already upon us will continue to be dominated and oriented by the haunting spectre of Nietzsche’s corps/e. Philosophers, intellectual historians, literary theorists, and those interested in western Marxism, popular culture, Friedrich Nietzsche, and the intersection of French and German thought will find this book both appealing and challenging.
In a cultural landscape dominated by hot takes and petty polemics, The Point stands for something different. Informed by the conviction that humanistic thinking has relevance for everyday life, the magazine has long maintained a rare space for thoughtful dialogue between a wide range of political views, philosophical perspectives, and personal experiences: its contributors include liberals and conservatives, philosophers and activists, Marxists and Catholics, New Yorkers and Midwesterners. A little more than a decade since its founding on the campus of the University of Chicago, it offers a unique and revelatory look at the changing face of America, one that speaks not only to way American minds have been forced to “open” by a decade of trauma and transformation, but also to the challenge of remaining open to our fellow citizens during our deeply divided present.
Featuring award-winning and highly acclaimed essays from The Point’s first ten years, The Opening of the American Mind traces the path of American intellect from the magazine’s inception in 2009, when Barack Obama was ascending the steps of the White House, to the brink of the 2020 election. The essays, chosen both for the way they capture their time and transcend it, are assembled into five sections that address cycles of cultural frustrations, social movements, and the aftermath of the 2016 election, and provide lively, forward-looking considerations of how we might expand our imaginations into the future. Spanning the era of Obama and Trump, Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and renewed attention to reparations, this anthology offers critical reflections on some of the decade’s most influential events and stands as a testament to the significance of open exchange. The intellectual dialogue provided by The Point has never been more urgently needed, and this collection will bring the magazine’s vital work to an even broader readership.
Perceptual Acquaintance was first published in 1984. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Philosophers, wrote Thomas Reid in 1785, "all suppose that we perceive not external objects immediately, and that the immediate objects of perception are only certain shadows of the external objects." To Reid, a founding father of the common-sense school of philosophy, John Locke's "way of ideas" threatened to supplant, in human knowledge, the world of physical objects and events—and to point down the dreaded path to scepticism.
John Yolton finds Reid at least partly responsible for this standard (and by now stereotypic) account of Locke and his eighteenth-century British successors on the subject of perception. By carefully examining the writings of Descartes and the Cartesians, and Locke and his successors, Yolton is able to suggest an alternative to this interpretation of their views. He goes back to a wide range of original texts—those of the period's major philosophers, to Descartes' scholastic precursors, to obscure pamphleteers, and to writers on religion, natural philosophy, medicine, and optics—all in an effort to help us understand the issues without the interference of modern labels and categories. The subtle changes over time reveal an important transformation in the understanding of perception, yet one that is prefigured in earlier work, contrary to Reid's view of the past. Included in Yolton's reevaluation is a full account of the role of Berkeley and Hume in the study of perceptual acquaintance, and of the connection between their work.
Living holds us between two places. It expresses what is most elementary—to be alive—and the absoluteness of our aspiration—finally living! But could we desire anything other than to live? In The Philosophy of Living, François Jullien meditates on Far Eastern thought and philosophy to analyze concepts that can be folded into a complete philosophy of living, including the idea of the moment, the ambiguity of the in-between, and what he calls the “transparency of morning.”
Translated by Krzysztof Fijalkowski and Michael Richardson, this volume asks poignant questions about what it means to be alive and inhabit the present. Jullien develops a strategy of living that goes beyond morality and dwells in the space between health and spirituality.
Nietzsche characterized the philosopher as the man of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow—a description befitting Stanley Cavell, with his longtime interest in freedom in the face of an uncertain future. This interest, particularly in the role of language in freedom of the will, is fully engaged in this volume, a collection of retrospective and forward-thinking essays on performative language and on performances in which the question of freedom is the underlying concern.
Seeking for philosophy the same spirit and assurance conveyed by an artist like Fred Astaire, Cavell presents essays that explore the meaning of grace and gesture in film and on stage, in language and in life. Cavell’s range is broad—from Astaire to Shakespeare’s soulful Cordelia. He also analyzes filmic gestures that bespeak racial stereotypes, opening a key topic that runs through the book: What is the nature of praise? The theme of aesthetic judgment, viewed in the light of “passionate utterance,” is everywhere evident in Cavell’s effort to provoke a renaissance in American thought. Critical to such a rebirth is a recognition of the centrality of the “ordinary” to American life. Here Cavell, who has alluded to Thoreau throughout, takes up the quintessential American philosopher directly, and in relation to Heidegger; he also returns to his great philosophical love, Wittgenstein. His collection of essays ends, appropriately enough, with an essay on collecting.
Theory—an embattled discourse for decades—faces a new challenge from those who want to model the methods of all scholarly disciplines on the sciences. What is urgently needed, says D. N. Rodowick, is a revitalized concept of theory that can assess the limits of scientific explanation and defend the unique character of humanistic understanding.
The Enlightenment was the age in which the world became modern, challenging tradition in favor of reason, freedom, and critical inquiry. While many aspects of the Enlightenment have been rigorously scrutinized—its origins and motivations, its principal characters and defining features, its legacy and modern relevance—the geographical dimensions of the era have until now largely been ignored. Placing the Enlightenment contends that the Age of Reason was not only a period of pioneering geographical investigation but also an age with spatial dimensions to its content and concerns.
Investigating the role space and location played in the creation and reception of Enlightenment ideas, Charles W. J. Withers draws from the fields of art, science, history, geography, politics, and religion to explore the legacies of Enlightenment national identity, navigation, discovery, and knowledge. Ultimately, geography is revealed to be the source of much of the raw material from which philosophers fashioned theories of the human condition.
Lavishly illustrated and engagingly written, Placing the Enlightenment will interest Enlightenment specialists from across the disciplines as well as any scholar curious about the role geography has played in the making of the modern world.
Since the late 1960s, when he introduced Theodor Adorno’s work on literature and cultural critique to an English-speaking public, Samuel Weber has stimulated the discovery of new and unexpected links within a broad spectrum of humanistic disciplines, including critical theory and psychoanalysis, media studies and literary analysis, continental philosophy and theater studies. The international group of scholars who contribute to Points of Departure demonstrate the persistent fecundity of Weber’s work. Centered around his essay on the Ghost of Hamlet, as reflected in the writings of Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt, the volume is broadly divided into explorations of the nature of spectrality, on the one hand, and the dynamics of reading, on the other. Each of the twelve essays thus takes its point of departure from “Weber’s singular path between languages, cultures, and traditions”—to quote Jacques Derrida, whose fictive “interview with a passing journalist” is published here for the first time.
The Possibility of Philosophy presents the notes that Maurice Merleau‑Ponty prepared for three courses he taught at the Collège de France: “The Possibility of Philosophy Today,” given in the spring semester of 1959, and “Cartesian Ontology and Ontology Today” and “Philosophy and Nonphilosophy since Hegel,” both given in the spring semester of 1961. The last two courses remain incomplete due to Merleau-Ponty’s unexpected death on May 3, 1961. Nonetheless, they provide indications of the new ontology that informed The Visible and the Invisible, a posthumously published work that was under way at the same time. These courses offer readers of Merleau‑Ponty’s late thought a wealth of references—to painting, literature, and psychoanalysis, and to the works of Husserl, Heidegger, Descartes, Hegel, and Marx—that fill in some of the missing pieces of The Visible and the Invisible, especially its often terse and sometimes cryptic working notes. We see more clearly how Merleau-Ponty’s attempt to bring forth a new ontology indicates a fundamental revision in what it means to think, an attempt to reimagine the possibility of philosophy.
Catherine Zuckert examines the work of five key philosophical figures from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through the lens of their own decidedly postmodern readings of Plato. She argues that Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Strauss, and Derrida, convinced that modern rationalism had exhausted its possibilities, all turned to Plato in order to rediscover the original character of philosophy and to reconceive the Western tradition as a whole. Zuckert's artful juxtaposition of these seemingly disparate bodies of thought furnishes a synoptic view, not merely of these individual thinkers, but of the broad postmodern landscape as well. The result is a brilliantly conceived work that offers an innovative perspective on the relation between the Western philosophical tradition and the evolving postmodern enterprise.
Postphenomenology is a fascinating investigation of the relationships between global culture and technology. The impressive range of subjects to which Don Ihde applies his skill as a phenomenologist is unified by what he describes as "a concern which arises with respect to one of the now major trends of Euro-American philosophy--its textism." He adds, "I show my worries to be less about the loss of subjects or authors, than I do about [there] not being bodies or perceivers."
In readings of Walter Benjamin's work, religion often marks a boundary between scholarly camps, but it rarely receives close and sustained scrutiny. Benjamin's most influential writings pertain to modern art and culture, but he frequently used religious language while rejecting both secularism and religious revival. Benjamin was, in today's terms, postsecular. Postsecular Benjamin explicates Benjamin's engagements with religious traditions as resources for contemporary debates on secularism, conflict, and identity. Brian Britt argues that what animates this work on tradition is the question of human agency, which he pursues through lively and sustained experimentation with ways of thinking, reading, and writing.
Preface to Modernism
Art Berman University of Illinois Press, 1994 Library of Congress BH301.M54B47 1994 | Dewey Decimal 190
Traces the conceptual lineage of modernism, examining its evolution in Western art and
literature through empiricism, idealism, and romanticism. Berman demonstrates how
modern social, political, and scientific developments -- including capitalism, socialism,
humanism, psychoanalysis, fascism, and modernism itself -- have altered attitudes toward
time, space, self, creativity, the natural world, and community. "Deserves careful study."
“Pre-modern philosophy” means the line of reflection that started with Plato andvAristotle, passed through Augustine and Boethius, and reached its acme in Aquinas, Scotus, and Suarez. The whole line was harshly judged by Descartes, then mocked by the empiricsts of the 18th Century. Why, then, did Pope Leo XII make a determined effort to revive it? And, more importantly, why was the revival a stunning success by the middle of the 20th Century?
The answers to both questions are found in a famous German book, Philosophie der Vorzeit by Josef Kleutgen, now available for the first time in English. Pre-ModernPhilosophy Defended shaped and strengthened Pope Leo’s resolve. It showed how inaccurate the harsh judgments had been and how sadly inferior the modern replacements from Descartes to Hegel had turned out to be in many respects.
Not in all. Kleutgen was no knee-jerk reactionary. He made no bones about the obsolete status of pre-Newtonian physics and cosmology. Rather, he focused on the central boast of “modern” thought, namely, that it had turned at least to the “subject” and had provided a long-needed thing called a “critique of knowledge.”
This book is must reading for intellectual historians and for philosophers working today in epistemology. But most of all, it is essential reading for laity and clergy concerned about revivals of modernism in the church. What was modernism, after all, but an attempt to make the Church revise her theology in the “light” of Kant or Hegel? This is why every Modernist knew Kleutgen’s name and hated this book.
Here is the first English translation (from the German) of the master work of Josef Kleutgen, the nineteenth century social philosopher whose thought lies at, or near, the heart of Catholic Social Thought. Kleutgen is widely and rightly seen as the shadow author of the social encyclicals of Leo XII. Leo’s Rerum Novarum remains the origin and constant reference point of all Catholic Social Teaching. And Popes since have dated their own social encyclicals from Rerum Novarum – hence, Quadragesimo anno and Centesimus annus. —Gerard V. Bradley, University of Notre Dame
Pre-Modern Philosophy Defended is must reading for intellectual historians and for philosophers working today in epistemology. And it is essential reading for laity and clergy concerned about revivals of modernism in the church. What was modernism, after all, but an attempt to make the Church revise her theology in the ‘light’ of Kant or Hegel? This is why every Modernist knew Kleutgen's name and hated Philosophie der Vorzeit (Pre-Modern Philosophy Defended).
To read literature is to read the way literature reads. René Girard’s immense body of work supports this thesis bountifully. Whether engaging the European novel, ancient Greek tragedy, Shakespeare’s plays, or Jewish and Christian scripture, Girard teaches us to read prophetically, not by offering a method he has developed, but by presenting the methodologies they have developed, the interpretative readings already available within (and constitutive of) such bodies of classical writing. In The Prophetic Law, literary scholar, theorist, and critic Sandor Goodhart divides his essays on René Girard since 1983 into four groupings. In three, he addresses Girardian concerns with Biblical scripture (Genesis and Exodus), literature (the European novel and Shakespeare), and philosophy and religious studies issues (especially ethical and Jewish subject matters). In a fourth section, he reproduces some of the polemical exchanges in which he has participated with others—including René Girard himself—as part of what could justly be deemed Jewish-Christian dialogue. The twelve texts that make up the heart of this captivating volume constitute the bulk of the author’s writings to date on Girard outside of his three previous books on Girardian topics. Taken together, they offer a comprehensive engagement with Girard’s sharpest and most original literary, anthropological, and scriptural insights.
Interest in Leo Strauss is greater now than at any time since his death, mostly because of the purported link between his thought and the political movement known as neoconservatism. Steven B. Smith, though, surprisingly depicts Strauss not as the high priest of neoconservatism but as a friend of liberal democracy—perhaps the best defender democracy has ever had. Moreover, in Reading Leo Strauss, Smith shows that Strauss’s defense of liberal democracy was closely connected to his skepticism of both the extreme Left and extreme Right.
Smith asserts that this philosophical skepticism defined Strauss’s thought. It was as a skeptic, Smith argues, that Strauss considered the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between reason and revelation—a conflict Strauss dubbed the “theologico-political problem.” Calling this problem “the theme of my investigations,” Strauss asked the same fundamental question throughout his life: what is the relation of the political order to revelation in general and Judaism in particular? Smith organizes his book with this question, first addressing Strauss’s views on religion and then examining his thought on philosophical and political issues.
In his investigation of these philosophical and political issues, Smith assesses Strauss’s attempt to direct the teaching of political science away from the examination of mass behavior and interest group politics and toward the study of the philosophical principles on which politics are based. With his provocative, lucid essays, Smith goes a long way toward establishing a distinctive form of Straussian liberalism.
Martin Jay tackles a question as old as Plato and still pressing today: what is reason, and what roles does and should it have in human endeavor? Applying the tools of intellectual history, he examines the overlapping, but not fully compatible, meanings that have accrued to the term "reason" over two millennia, homing in on moments of crisis, critique, and defense of reason.
After surveying Western ideas of reason from the ancient Greeks through Kant, Hegel, and Marx, Jay engages at length with the ways leading theorists of the Frankfurt School—Horkheimer, Marcuse, Adorno, and most extensively Habermas—sought to salvage a viable concept of reason after its apparent eclipse. They despaired, in particular, over the decay in the modern world of reason into mere instrumental rationality. When reason becomes a technical tool of calculation separated from the values and norms central to daily life, then choices become grounded not in careful thought but in emotion and will—a mode of thinking embraced by fascist movements in the twentieth century.
Is there a more robust idea of reason that can be defended as at once a philosophical concept, a ground of critique, and a norm for human emancipation? Jay explores at length the ommunicative rationality advocated by Habermas and considers the range of arguments, both pro and con, that have greeted his work.
Transcendentalism never came to an end in America. It just went underground for a stretch, but is back in full force in Robert Brandom’s new book. Brandom takes up Kant and Hegel and explores their contemporary significance as if little time had expired since intellectuals gathered around Emerson in Concord to discuss reason and idealism, selves, freedom, and community. Brandom’s discussion belongs to a venerable tradition that distinguishes us as rational animals, and philosophy by its concern to understand, articulate, and explain the notion of reason that is thereby cast in that crucial demarcating role.
An emphasis on our capacity to reason, rather than merely to represent, has been growing in philosophy over the last thirty years, and Robert Brandom has been at the center of this development. Reason in Philosophy is the first book that gives a succinct overview of his understanding of the role of reason as the structure at once of our minds and our meanings—what constitutes us as free, responsible agents. The job of philosophy is to introduce concepts and develop expressive tools for expanding our self-consciousness as sapients: explicit awareness of our discursive activity of thinking and acting, in the sciences, politics, and the arts. This is a paradigmatic work of contemporary philosophy.
René Girard's Mimetic Theory
Wolfgang Palaver Michigan State University Press, 2013 Library of Congress B2430.G494P3513 2013 2003 | Dewey Decimal 203.4
A systematic introduction into the mimetic theory of the French-American literary theorist and philosophical anthropologist René Girard, this essential text explains its three main pillars (mimetic desire, the scapegoat mechanism, and the Biblical “difference”) with the help of examples from literature and philosophy. This book also offers an overview of René Girard’s life and work, showing how much mimetic theory results from existential and spiritual insights into one’s own mimetic entanglements. Furthermore it examines the broader implications of Girard’s theories, from the mimetic aspect of sovereignty and wars to the relationship between the scapegoat mechanism and the question of capital punishment. Mimetic theory is placed within the context of current cultural and political debates like the relationship between religion and modernity, terrorism, the death penalty, and gender issues. Drawing textual examples from European literature (Cervantes, Shakespeare, Goethe, Kleist, Stendhal, Storm, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Proust) and philosophy (Plato, Camus, Sartre, Lévi-Strauss, Derrida, Vattimo), Palaver uses mimetic theory to explore the themes they present. A highly accessible book, this text is complemented by bibliographical references to Girard’s widespread work and secondary literature on mimetic theory and its applications, comprising a valuable bibliographical archive that provides the reader with an overview of the development and discussion of mimetic theory until the present day.
Agon Hamza, ed. Duke University Press, 2015 Library of Congress B4870.Z594R474 2015
Repeating Žižek offers a serious engagement with the ideas and propositions of philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Often subjecting Žižek's work to a Žižekian analysis, this volume's contributors consider the possibility (or impossibility) of formalizing Žižek's ideas into an identifiable philosophical system. They examine his interpretations of Hegel, Plato, and Lacan, outline his debates with Badiou, and evaluate the implications of his analysis of politics and capitalism upon Marxist thought. Other essays focus on Žižek's approach to Christianity and Islam, his "sloppy" method of reading texts, his relation to current developments in neurobiology, and his theorization of animals. The book ends with an afterword by Žižek in which he analyzes Shakespeare's and Beckett's plays in relation to the subject. The contributors do not reach a consensus on defining a Žižekian school of philosophy—perhaps his idiosyncratic and often heterogeneous ideas simply resist synthesis—but even in their repetition of Žižek, they create something new and vital.
Contributors. Henrik Jøker Bjerre, Bruno Bosteels, Agon Hamza, Brian Benjamin Hansen, Adrian Johnston, Katja Kolšek, Adam Kotsko, Catherine Malabou, Benjamin Noys, Geoff Pfeifer, Frank Ruda, Oxana Timofeeva, Samo Tomšic, Gabriel Tupinambá, Fabio Vighi, Gavin Walker, Sead Zimeri, Slavoj Žižek
Since antiquity, philosophy and rhetoric have traditionally been cast as rivals, with the former often lauded as a search for logical truth and the latter usually disparaged as empty speech. But in this erudite intellectual history, Nancy S. Struever stakes out a claim for rhetoric as the more productive form of inquiry.
Struever views rhetoric through the lens of modality, arguing that rhetoric’s guiding interest in what is possible—as opposed to philosophy’s concern with what is necessary—makes it an ideal tool for understanding politics. Innovative readings of Hobbes and Vico allow her to reexamine rhetoric’s role in the history of modernity and to make fascinating connections between thinkers from the classical, early modern, and modern periods. From there she turns to Walter Benjamin, reclaiming him as an exemplar of modernist rhetoric and a central figure in the long history of the form. Persuasive and perceptive, Rhetoric, Modality, Modernity is a novel rewriting of the history of rhetoric and a heady examination of the motives, issues, and flaws of contemporary inquiry.
Rousseau and Nietzsche presented two of the most influential critiques of modern life and much can still be learned from their respective analyses of problems we still face.
In Rousseau, Nietzsche, and the Image of the Human, Paul Franco examines the relationship between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Friedrich Nietzsche, arguably the two most influential shapers and explorers of the moral and cultural imagination of late modernity. Both thinkers leveled radical critiques of modern life, but those critiques differed in important respects. Whereas Rousseau focused on the growing inequality of modern society and the hypocrisy, self-division, and loss of civic virtue it spawned, Nietzsche decried the democratic equality he identified with Rousseau and the loss of individual and cultural greatness it entailed. Franco argues, however, that Rousseau and Nietzsche are more than mere critics; they both put forward powerful alternative visions of how we ought to live. Franco focuses specifically on their views of the self and its realization, their understandings of women and the relation between the sexes, and their speculative conceptions of politics. While there are many similarities in their positive visions, Franco argues that it is the differences between them from which we have most to learn.
It is hard to think of two philosophers less alike than St. Thomas Aquinas and Jean-Paul Sartre. Aquinas, a thirteenth-century Dominican friar, and Sartre, a twentieth-century philosopher and atheist, are separated by both time and religious beliefs. Yet, for philosopher Joseph S. Catalano, the two are worth bringing together for their shared concern with a fundamental issue: the uniqueness of each individual person and how this uniqueness relates to our mutual dependence on each other. When viewed in the context of one another, Sartre broadens and deepens Aquinas’s outlook, updating it for our present planetary and social needs. Both thinkers, as Catalano shows, bring us closer to the reality that surrounds us, and both are centrally concerned with the place of the human within a temporal realm and what stance we should take on our own freedom to act and live within that realm. Catalano shows how freedom, for Sartre, is embodied, and that this freedom further illuminates Aquinas’s notion of consciousness.
Compact and open to readers of varying backgrounds, this book represents Catalano’s efforts to bring a lifetime of work on Sartre into an accessible consideration of philosophical questions by placing him in conversation with Aquinas, and it serves as a primer on key ideas of both philosophers. By bringing together these two figures, Catalano offers a fruitful space for thinking through some of the central questions about faith, conscience, freedom, and the meaning of life.
The first collection of Eugene T. Gendlin’s groundbreaking essays in philosophical psychology, Saying What We Mean casts familiar areas of human experience, such as language and feeling, in a radically different light. Instead of the familiar scientific emphasis on what is conceptually explicit, Gendlin shows that the implicit also comprises a structure that can be made available for recognition and analysis.
Developing the traditions of phenomenology, existentialism, and pragmatism, Gendlin forges a new path that synthesizes contemporary evolutionary theory, cognitive psychology, and philosophical linguistics.
This is the fourth and final part of Kreeft’s four-volume history of philosophy . . . on ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary philosophy.
Kreeft focuses on the “big ideas” that have influenced present people and present times, and includes relevant biographical data, proportionate to its importance for each thinker. Moreover, the aim of the work is to stimulate philosophizing, controversy, and argument. It uses ordinary language and logic, not jargon and symbolic logic, and it is commonsensical (like Aristotle) and existential in the sense that it sees philosophy as something to be lived and experienced in life. Philosophy, after all, is not about philosophy but reality . . . about wisdom, life and death, good and evil, and God.
Kreeft seeks to be simple and direct and clear. But it is not dumbed down and patronizing. It will stretch the reader, but it is meant for beginnings, not just scholars. It can be used for college classes or do-it-yourselfers. It emphasizes surprises; remember, “philosophy begins in wonder.” And it includes visual aids: charts, cartoons, line drawings, and drawings of philosophers.
Peter Kreeft teaches philosophy at Boston College and is a very prolific author of philosophy and theology texts, including, from St. Augustine’s Press, Socratic Logic, An Ocean Full of Angels, The Philosophy of Jesus, Jesus-Shock, The Sea Within, I Surf Therefore I Am, If Einstein Had Been a Surfer, the first nine titles in his Socrates Meets series, including Philosophy 101 by Socrates and the titles on Machiavelli, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Marx, and Sartre, and the first three volumes of this series, Socrates’ Children: Ancient, Socrates’ Children: Medieval, and Socrates’ Children: Modern.
This is the third of a four-volume history of philosophy . . . on ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary philosophy. After the fourth volume is produced in paper, a one-volume clothbound edition, containing all four paperbound editions, will be published.
Kreeft focuses on the “big ideas” that have influenced present people and present times, and includes relevant biographical data, proportionate to its importance for each thinker. Moreover, the aim of the work is to stimulate philosophizing, controversy, and argument. It uses ordinary language and logic, not jargon and symbolic logic, and it is commonsensical (like Aristotle) and existential in the sense that it sees philosophy as something to be lived and experienced in life. Philosophy, after all, is not about philosophy but reality . . . about wisdom, life and death, good
and evil, and God.
Kreeft seeks to be simple and direct and clear. But it is not dumbed down and patronizing. It will stretch the reader, but it is meant for beginnings, not just scholars. It can be used for college classes or do-it-yourselfers. It emphasizes surprises; remember, “philosophy begins in wonder.” And it includes visual aids: charts, cartoons, line drawings, and drawings of each philosopher.
In the first essay of this book, Stanley Cavell characterizes philosophy as a "willingness to think not about something other than what ordinary human beings think about, but rather to learn to think undistractedly about things that ordinary human beings cannot help thinking about, or anyway cannot help having occur to them, sometimes in fantasy, sometimes as a flash across a landscape."
Fantasies of film and television and literature, flashes across the landscape of literary theory, philosophical discourse, and French historiography give Cavell his starting points in these twelve essays. Here is philosophy in and out of "school," understood as a discipline in itself or thought through the works of Shakespeare, Molière, Kierkegaard, Thoreau, Brecht, Makavejev, Bergman, Hitchcock, Astaire, and Keaton.
This book gives us our first clear look at how the man and his moment met to create “critical theory.” An intimate picture of the quintessential twentieth-century transatlantic intellectual, the book is also a window on the cultural ferment of Adorno’s day—and its ongoing importance in our own.
Exposing the religious roots of our ostensibly godless age, Michael Allen Gillespie reveals in this landmark study that modernity is much less secular than conventional wisdom suggests. Taking as his starting point the collapse of the medieval world, Gillespie argues that from the very beginning moderns sought not to eliminate religion but to support a new view of religion and its place in human life. He goes on to explore the ideas of such figures as William of Ockham, Petrarch, Erasmus, Luther, Descartes, and Hobbes, showing that modernity is best understood as a series of attempts to formulate a new and coherent metaphysics or theology.
“Bringing the history of political thought up to date and situating it against the backdrop of contemporary events, Gillespie’s analyses provide us a way to begin to have conversations with the Islamic world about what is perhaps the central question within each of the three monotheistic religions: if God is omnipotent, then what is the place of human freedom?”—Joshua Mitchell, Georgetown University
Mastery of many sorts emerges in new configurations in Peter Bürger's The Thinking of the Master as an idea developed by Hegel in the master/slave dialectic in his Phenomenology of Spirit as a quality embodied in the work of certain twentieth-century maître-penseurs, or "master thinkers"; and, not least, in the expertise of Bürger himself as he negotiates and clarified a critical intersection of contemporary French and German thought. The author of the classic Theory of the Avant-Garde, Bürger here considers what several seminal thinkers--among them Bataille, Barthes, Foucault, and Derrida--owe to Hegel's dialectic and measures their accomplishments against the avant-garde project. Succinct, witty, and instructive, each of his essays stands alone as a valuable exposition of a significant strain of postmodern thought.
John Sallis is one of America’s preeminent and most original contemporary philosophers. The absence, until now, of a com-prehensive work on Sallis has constituted a glaring oversight in philosophical scholarship. The Thought of John Sallis is both an introduction for students new to his work and a valuable resource for scholars needing a systematic consideration of Sallis’s wide-ranging thought.
Sallis’s work possesses an intrinsic power and originality, as well as deep interpretive insight. This book is a descriptive and critical journey through his thought, providing an overview for readers who wish to gain a sense of its sweep, along with discrete sections on particular philosophical disciplines for readers whose interests are more specific. It grapples with the challenges Sallis’s thought presents, making them explicit and opening them up to further consideration. And it attempts to locate his thought within both contemporary continental philosophy and philosophy as a whole. Essential for any student of continental philosophy, The Thought of John Sallis expounds on his work in a manner that increases access, honors its depth, and opens up unexplored possibilities for phil-osophy.
What intelligent person has never pondered the meaning of life? For Yuval Lurie, this is more than a puzzling philosophical question; it is a journey, and in this book he takes readers on a search that ranges from ancient quests for the purpose of life to the ruminations of postmodern thinkers on meaning. He shows that the question about the meaning of life expresses philosophical puzzlement regarding life in general as well as personal concern about one’s own life in particular.
Lurie traces the emergence of this question as a modern philosophical quandary, riddled with shifts and turns that have arisen over the years in response to it. Tracking the Meaning of Life is written as a critical philosophical investigation stretching over several traditions, such as analytic philosophy, phenomenology, and existentialism. It maps out a journey that explores pivotal responses to this question, drawing especially on the thought of Tolstoy, Wittgenstein, Sartre, and Camus and exploring in depth the insights these thinkers offer regarding their own difficulties concerning the meaning of life.
In the book’s four sections, Lurie discusses Tolstoy’s challenge to experience the religious and transcendental meaning of life by choosing a simple, hardworking existence; Wittgenstein’s focus on ethics and discovering the sense of the world, his conclusion that the question of the meaning of life makes no sense, and his turning to experience the mystical aspect of the world; Sartre’s positing of freedom as the basis of human life, stipulating a personal answer to the question of the meaning of life; and Camus’ view of the absurdity of life, unalleviated by any personal meaning. Guided by these views, Lurie imparts new insight to ideas that underlie our concern with life’s meaning, such as the difference between attitudes toward life and beliefs and opinions about life, the meaning of words versus the meaning of events, shared meanings versus personal meanings, and the link between ethics and personal identity.
Tracking the Meaning of Life is no mere dry philosophical study but a journey that dramatically illustrates the poignancy of the quest for meaning, showing that along the way it gradually becomes more obvious how personal meaning may be found in the pulsations of everyday life. The book offers stimulating reading not only for scholars in philosophy but also for general readers who wish to see how their personal concerns are echoed in modern philosophical thought. More than a description of a journey, it is a map to anxieties and puzzlements we all face, pointing to ideas that can guide readers on their own search for meaning.
In recent years, Richard Kearney has emerged as a leading figure in the field of continental philosophy, widely recognized for his work in the areas of philosophical and religious hermeneutics, theory and practice of the imagination, and political thought. This much-anticipated--and long overdue--study is the first to reflect the full range and impact of Kearney's extensive contributions to contemporary philosophy.
The book opens with Kearney's own "prelude" in which he traces his intellectual itinerary as it traverses the three imaginaries explored in the volume: the dialogical, the political, and the narrative. The interviews that follow the first section allow readers to listen in on conversations between Kearney and some of the most interesting and respected thinkers of our time--Noam Chomsky, Charles Taylor, Jacques Derrida, Paul Ricouer, and Martha Nussbaum--as they reveal new and unexpected aspects of their thought on stories and mourning, ethics and narrative, terror and religion, intellectuals and ideology. The next section, on the political imaginary, looks at Kearney's distinctive contribution to the political situation in Ireland and in Europe more generally; and in the last, on narrative, writers including David Wood, Terry Eagleton, and Mark Dooley focus on Kearney's novels as instances of narrative theory put into literary practice. Concluding with Kearney's postscript, an essay on "Traversals and Epiphanies in Joyce and Proust," the volume comes full circle, encompassing the full extent of Richard Kearney's engagement and offerings as a philosopher,
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.
Never before translated in English, this 1973 discussion between René Girard (1923–2015) and other prominent scholars represents one of the most significant breakthroughs in mimetic theory. Organized by the French journal Esprit, the conversation was an opportunity for Girard to debate with his interlocutors the theories he expounded in Violence and the Sacred (1972). These scholars prompted him to reconsider the book’s strictly sociological interpretation of religion, highlighting the misrecognition of violent scapegoating at its origins and in its myths and ritual practices, by addressing the relation between his critique of primitive or archaic religion and the role of Judeo-Christianity. The ensuing discussion opened up an entirely new and admittedly startling phase of his thinking, where he deployed an epistemology rooted in Biblical revelation, which he viewed as an ongoing deconstruction of sacrificial practices. In this text, he vindicates for the very first time the anthropological relevance of Judeo-Christian scriptures. The 1973 discussion thus marks a new and decisive step in Girard’s intellectual journey, making this volume a critical document for understanding the transition period between Violence and the Sacred and Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World (1978).
The principal motif that runs throughout The Virtual Point of Freedom is a confrontation with the discourse of freedom, or, more specifically, the falsely transgressive ideal of a total emancipation that would know no constraints. Far from delineating a supposed “subject of freedom” that would allegedly overcome alienation once and for all, the seven chapters in Chiesa’s book seek to unfold an innovative reading of the dialectical coincidence between dis-alienation and re-alienation in politics, aesthetics, and religion, using psychoanalysis as a privileged critical tool. Topics include Pier Paolo Pasolini’s attack on the visual and biological degeneration of bodies brought about by pleasure-seeking “liberal” consumerism, Giorgio Agamben’s and Slavoj Žižek’s conflicting negotiations with the Christian tradition of “poverty” and “inappropriateness” as potential redemption, and Alain Badiou’s inability to develop a philosophical anthropology that could sustain a coherent politics of emancipation. The book concludes by sketching out the figure of the partisan, a subject who makes it possible to conceive of an intersection between provisional morality and radical politics.
Sandra Laugier has long been a key liaison between American and European philosophical thought, responsible for bringing American philosophers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Stanley Cavell to French readers—but until now her books have never been published in English. Why We Need Ordinary Language Philosophy rights that wrong with a topic perfect for English-language readers: the idea of analytic philosophy.
Focused on clarity and logical argument, analytic philosophy has dominated the discipline in the United States, Australia, and Britain over the past one hundred years, and it is often seen as a unified, coherent, and inevitable advancement. Laugier questions this assumption, rethinking the very grounds that drove analytic philosophy to develop and uncovering its inherent tensions and confusions. Drawing on J. L. Austin and the later works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, she argues for the solution provided by ordinary language philosophy—a philosophy that trusts and utilizes the everyday use of language and the clarity of meaning it provides—and in doing so offers a major contribution to the philosophy of language and twentieth- and twenty-first-century philosophy as a whole.
In search of the origins of some of the most fundamental problems that have beset philosophers in English-speaking countries in the past century, Claire Ortiz Hill maintains that philosophers are treating symptoms of ills whose causes lie buried in history. Substantial linguistic hurdles have blocked access to Gottlob Frege's thought and even to Bertrand Russell's work to remedy the problems he found in it. Misleading translations of key concepts like intention, content, presentation, idea, meaning, concept, etc., severed analytic philosophy from its roots.
Hill argues that once linguistic and historical barriers are removed, Edmund Husserl's critical study of Frege's logic in his 1891 Philosophy of Arithmetic provides important insights into issues in philosophy now.
She supports her conclusions with analyses of Frege's, Husserl's, and Russell's works, including Principia Mathematica, and with linguistic analyses of the principal concepts of analytic philosophy. She re-establishes links that existed between English and Continental thought to show Husserl's expertise as a philosopher of mathematics and logic who had been Weierstrass's assistant and had long maintained ties with Cantor, Hilbert, and Zermelo.