Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1998
Hegel’s Impact on Russian Constitutional Development
Alexander S. Fesenko
This essay argues that the thinker whose teaching played a key role in the formation of the Rusian political and legal paradigm was no Marx but Hegel. It analyzes the impact of the Hegelian philosophy on the development of the Russian constitutional tradition and examines its political implications.
The Irony of Political Philosophy
Political philosophy is a paradoxical attempt to bring reason to bear upon a subject matter that is irrational. This problem has been side-stepped by many contemporary political thinkers. Political theorists like Iris Young, Michael Sandel, Jean Elshtain, Robert Bork, and Richard Peterson acknowledge that contemporary political life, with its lack of democratic participation and its undemocratic bureaucratic institutions and is undergoing a legitimization crisis. This approach forgets, however, that there can be no rational resolutions within the political realm. Political philosophy alone cannot resolve the legitimization crisis. This is especially so because the contemporary legitimization crisis arises, in part, from a lack of rationality on the part of both agents and institutions. Yet, we cannot fully give up on the enterprise of political philosophy. To do so would be to acquiesce to irrationality and the lack of legitimization found in contemporary political life. This paper argues that political philosophers, ay their best, must adopt a deliberately ironic disposition; while demanding rational analyses of political life, they must acknowledge that rational analysis may itself be ineffectual in political life.
Encountering the Face of God: A Levinasian Exploration of Theistic Existentialism
Laura Duhan Kaplan
This essay explores the intersection of the ideas of Emmanuel Levinas and theistic existentialism by exploring the metaphor of being confronted by the blank face of God in times of great stress. Levinas criticizes the history of metaphysics for focusing exclusively on the analysis of objects. He aims to redirect philosophy toward the study of relationships, and focuses on the experience eof being confronted by another human face. Jean-Paul Sartre’s proof of the nonexistence of God illustrates Levinas’ critique. Sartre treats God as an object with determinate properties, and concludes that all who believe in Gid are seeking a false sense of security. Many theistic existentialist, however, speak of God as a partner in relationship, rather than as a thing, and do not expect to be freed from uncertainty or responsibility through a relationship with God.
Philosophy as Argument/Philosophy as Conversation
Edward G. Lawry
This paper criticizes the understanding of philosophy as entirely made up of argument. It gives some characterization of argument as a rhetorical form and conversation as a motivating attitude. It explicates the understanding of this distinction in Book 1 of Plato’s Republic, and emphasizes the contemporary relevance of the distinction by appeal to the work of Richard Rorty. While respectful of Rorty’s insights, it sides more with the Platonic understanding of philosophical conversation, which does not abandon the pursuit of truth.
Abortion, Christianity, and Consistency
I describe three major areas in which I argue that Christians’ belief that abortion is morally wrong is inconsistent with other important abortion-related mainstream Christian beliefs or actions based on those beliefs. The three areas are: (1) abortion and soul-saving; (2) abortion prevention and violence; and (3) abortion and the fate of frozen fertilized human eggs. I make no direct argument about the moral status of abortion itself.
Between Dogmatism and Relativism: André Comte-Sponville’s Cynicism
This essay introduces the work of André Comte-Sponville to an English audience by explaining his ethical position. Comte-Sponville calls this position “cynicism,” and intends it as a corrective of the excesses of both relativism and dogmatism. The distinction critical for understanding cynicism is that between value and truth, which are here used to explain all three: cynicism, dogmatism, and relativism.
Volume 5, Numbers 2-3, Summer-Fall 1998
That is the Happiest Conversation…
James B. Sauer
A Modest Realism
Joe Frank Jones, III
This essay argues that essentialism and epistemological foundationalism can be separated, and that a “humble” realism-foundationalism can be described which explains common cultural practices like counseling. A necessary constructionist component survives in this still legitimately ‘realist’ position, but it is shown not to lead to any crippling skepticism or relativism, as does pure constructionism.
In Support of a Modest Realism: Applications to Narratives of Self and Philosophical Methodology.
Laura Duhan Kaplan
The “modest realism” described by Joe Frank Jones, III offers a sound methodological model for developing both self-understanding and philosophical theories. Claire Chafee’s play Why We Have a Body illustrates the pitfalls of living both a thoroughgoing realism and a thoroughgoing idealism and argues for the conception of a life story as a project in which discovery and invention play side by side. Stanley Cavell argues that the shape of a philosophy mirrors the shape of a philosopher’s life. Thereby he suggests that Ludwig Wittgenstein saw his own revolutionary philosophical work as a species of modest realism, i.e., continuing to turn in fruitful directions, rather than as a species of anti-idealism, i.e., rejecting an entire tradition of philosophical theorizing.
A Modest Constructionism: Response to Joe Frank Jones, III.
Charles W. Harvey
In this response I argue (a) that Jones’ minimalist realism is, also, a minimalist constructionism. And (b) that the silent sphere of evidence that Jones’ uses to ground his realism, may not be able to supply even a minimalist, strictly negative ground for epistemic endeavors.
Dissociation: An Evolutionary Interpretation
Joe Barnhart, Ph.D.
My hypothesis is that human personhood has ancient biological roots which make it possible for social reinforcers to contribute to the gradual construction of real persons who are always deeper than the stories about them. Multiple persons do sometimes emerge from one human organism. Rather than try to prove they are real, I explore the consequences of assuming them to be genuine emergents that become social environment to one another. I suggest that the multiple-persons phenomenon has profoundly influenced the development of human ethics and the attainment of personhood through the pursuit of ideals.
Toward a Hermeneutics of Memory and Multiple Personality.
Randall R. Lyle
Barnhardt, in “Dissociation: An Evolutionary Interpretation,” makes a case for understanding multiple personality as a “natural” phenomenon resulting from human biological evolution. He also argues that the reason that “multiple personalities” are not encountered more frequently is a result of a social construction encouraging “single” personalities. He concludes that it is from the interaction between the two that ethics derive. In this response I offer an alternative hermeneutic, using memory as the interpretive key, and by introducing Ricoeur’s work on narrative, highlight how Barnhardt’s argument limits us to a “scientific” understanding of Multiple Personality and thus limits our ability to understand and enact a viable “ethic” of care.
Insight, Judgment, World: Rethinking the Ontology of Being and Time.
Jerome A. Miller
Revisiting Heidegger’s interpretation of “world” in Being and Time can help us come to grips with the conflict between the naturalistic and hermeneutical points of view which post-modernism has aggravated rather than resolved. After discussing Heidegger’s account of the “hermeneutical circle,” and his rejection of the correspondence theory of truth, I argue that , to “save” truth form hermeneutical relativism, Heidegger smuggles naturalism inside the hermeneutical circle. I suggest that, in order to abandon naturalism without abandoning truth, it is necessary to radically rethink the nature of judgment and recognize that it alone completes our ontological access to the world.
Changing the Metaphors of Foundation
Kenneth L. Buckman
The traditional philosophical metaphors of epistemology, which speak of grounds or foundation, produce a conception of knowledge as fixed and absolute. This paper is not an effort to revive traditional epistemological view of foundations and origins. After a preliminary and cursory discussion of how the metaphors of foundation and ground are employed, principally by Descartes and Heidegger, and what is suggested by such an employment, I sketch the postmodern rejection of these metaphors. However, I further indicate how, as valuable as it is, postmodern criticism leaves us with an inadequate account of how we understand ourselves and how it is that we understand in general. I criticize postmodern thinking for ignoring the human elements of feeling and imagination and endorse the more satisfying model suggested by Paul Ricoeur. By understanding the role of feeling and imagination, we can escape the strict sterility of the grapheme. I end with my own suggestion that we gain a better sense of our attachment to and understanding of the world if we change the metaphors of foundations, grounds, and origins and instead employ metaphors of gathering, coalescence, or coagulation.
Thinking Problematically: Scribbling in the Margins
This essay provides a pastpostmodern phenomenological account of a good idea. It is a short experiment in what Foucault calls, “the unchanging pedagogical origins of dialectics.” The ‘ostensible’ question considered is: What follows in the wake of nihilism? Scribbling in the margins, a metaphor for the classical task of the public intellectual, is one way of nudging the reader into the periphery of writing.
The Embodied and Transcendental Self: Toward A Synthesis and A Way of Knowing
Ralph D. Ellis
The ’embodied self’ is the purposeful dimension of any organism capable of acting toward a unified motivation to maintain a self-organizing structure by appropriating, replacing, and reproducing material components to serve as substrata. We reflect on the ‘self ‘ in this sense when we direct attention away from the objects of experience and toward the way our bodies motivate our experiences in terms of emotional purposes of the organism, by looking, searching, shifting the focus of attention, etc.–actions rather than reactions of our bodies and nervous systems. The ‘transcendental self,’ by contrast, cannot be identified with any particular embodied state of consciousness, because it is that which unifies all the particular stages and gives them direction. It is argued here that affect and motivation are the keys to understanding and unifying the transcendental and embodied selves, because both reflect the organism’s self-organizing tendency; and that we can know ourselves by understanding the way affect and motivation shape the pattern and direction of our stream of consciousness.
The Self in Aristotle’s Ethics
Stephen A Calogero
This paper examines Aristotle’s treatment of friendship and self-love in Books VIII and IX of the Nicomachean Ethics. The purpose is to explore what Aristotle means by self, and his understanding of why selves become engaged in benevolent relationships with others. Some discussion of Aristotle’s influence on Kierkegaard helps to bring out the significance of Aristotle’s insights about the self. Aristotle explains how the self’s movement toward actuality grounds friendship and benevolence. True friendship and all endeavors to “produce” good, derive from love for one’s own being as mediated by one’s intelligence or nous. All such authentic endeavors constitute an effort to actualize one’s self, to act nobly, to in one’s achievement and to participate in the community of being.
Volume 5, Number 4, Winter 1998
A General Framework for Philosophical Counseling.
This paper presents a general framework for philosophical counseling founded upon the distinction between philosophical discourse and philosophy as a live experience. Clients enter counseling, usually, philosophically unsophisticated, but with a set of perspectives and a predicament. I outline the two general processes of philosophical counseling that address such a reported predicament. The first process-critique-involves a critical examination of the client’s philosophical perspectives, as they are related to the reported predicament. Through the use of the Socratic method, the counselor attempts to examine the relation, meaning, implications, etc., of such perspectives. This, I argue, leads to a destabilization of the client, where previously unquestioned beliefs and values become doubtful. As such, a second process-creation-is needed in order to overcome the destabilization of the initial process. For this process to succeed, I argue, philosophical counseling must avoid the problem of suggestion by not relying on any first-order philosophical assumptions.
Sartre’s Existential Consciousness: Implications for Intersubjectivity
Sartre’s Degrees of Consciousness Theory is developed in order to ascertain what this existential conception implies for an account of human intersubjectivity. Once active involvement in instrumental concerns-first degree consciousness-and reflection, whether of an impure kind characterizing second degree consciousness or a pure consciousness-that of a third degree-are distinguished, attention is focused upon the kinds of social relations typifying each kind of consciousness. A model for social relations is suggested to distinguish it from either the conflict model, with which it is often confused, or the ‘we-subject’ model necessary for world exploitation so as to offer a way of grounding a morality as promised at the end of Being and Nothingness.
Unity and Undecidability: The Subject of Kant’s First Critique
This essay argues that, in the first Critique, the need for unity leads Kant to re-inscribe the subject in a situation of multiplicity and undecidability. The result, however,. is not a relativization that negates the meaning of the subject’s existence, but rather a contextualization that makes meaning possible. This reading clarifies some of the connections between Kant and contemporary postmodernism, especially the work of Jacques Derrida.
What Philosophical Counseling Can’t Do
Notwithstanding recent successes of philosophical counseling, which appear to be leading to its legitimization as a professional practice in America and abroad, many forces concert to condition its emergent structure and function. This paper briefly elucidates some of the influences to which philosophical counseling is subject, that lie beyond its unilateral control. These include its portrayal by the media to the public, its scope of practice, its relations with psychology and psychiatry, its foreseeable effects in particular cases, and its perception by (and of) analytical philosophy.
Why Has God Forsaken Me? Philosophically Counseling a Crisis of Faith
Peter B. Raabe
This essay traces a case in which I was involved. It illustrates that counselors and clients can have very different worldviews, down to and including different views concerning the existence of God, and yet philosophy can do its work in the counseling setting. It also illustrates that straight thinking can be very valuable to both religious and irreligious persons.
How Many Spaces Does it Take to Get to the Center of a Theory of Human Problem Solving?
David F. Wolf II
The diverse number of N-space theories and the unrestrained growth of the number of spaces within the multiple space models has incurred general skepticism about the new search space variants within the search space paradigm of psychology. I argue that any N-space theory is computationally equivalent to a single space model. Nevertheless, the N-space theories may explain the systematic behavior of human problem solving better than the original one search space theory by identifying relationships between the tasks that occur in problem solving. These tasks are independent of the particular process and may not be explicitly represented by the problem solver. N-space theorists seem to overlook their own reason for distinguishing N-space theories from single space models, namely the presupposition that these tasks must have a unified, underlying search space architecture. This assumption is ill-founded and may implement a procedural restraint that could impede psychological research.