Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 1999
Political Arguments Against Utopianism
A number of different types of arguments have been advanced against the use of utopian speculation in Political Philosophy. In this essay I examine what I call “political arguments against utopianism.” I limit my discussion to those arguments made by liberals. These arguments hold that there is some essential incompatibility between liberalism and utopianism. I argue that this is not the case. After examining these arguments in detail, I attempt to define “utopianism.” This leads me to argue that there is a type of utopianism, which I call “political utopianism,” which escapes the political arguments advanced by liberals. I end by urging that liberals should spend more time developing utopian conceptions of liberal society.
Mill on Censorship
Frances E. Gill
This essay argues that John Stuart Mill is not the radical anti-censorship thinker he is sometimes supposed to be. By describing a contemporary case of a journalist who denied the holocaust, I show that there is evidence in Mill that supports the position that the journalist should have been censored.
The Spirit of Art An Hegelian Look at Art Today
Daniel J. Goodey
This essay seeks to establish the relevance for contemporary aesthetic theory of Hegel’s view of the relationship between art, religion, and philosophy. The way in which Hegel relates these three is shown to offer an aesthetic theory in conflict with, and superior to, both functionalist and naturalist approaches. The views of Arnold Berleaut and Robert Steeker are used as foils for the functionalism/naturalism part of the argument. Finally, the views of Benedetto Croce concerning the death of art and religion in Hegel are shown to be mistaken, clearing the way for asserting the relevance of Hegel’s ideas to contemporary aesthetic theory.
A Prolegomena to “Emotional Intelligence”
Although emotional intelligence (EQ) training seems to fall right into line with virtue ethics and the reigning cognitive theories of emotion, there is a reason many philosophers are skeptical of such training. Emotional intelligence manuals tend to underplay considerations which philosophers see as essential preludes to theories of emotional cultivation: considering our responsibility for emotions, connecting this responsibility with moral evaluation, and explaining moral justification of particular emotions in particular contexts. This essay fills in the gap between EQ-theorists and philosophers by outlining the conditions which must be satisfied for an emotion to be morally justified, and hence a proper object of EQ-training. A necessary step in filling in this gap is to show how moral evaluation of the emotions indeed requires responsibility, in spite of recent attacks on this assumption. If successful, this defended position provides a prolegomena to the ideal of emotional intelligence.
Personal Identity and Social Change: Toward a Post-Traditional Lifeworld
The paper attempts to describe mechanisms of personal identity development during the radical break with traditions which is typical for the age of reflexive modernity. Here identity development is no longer possible on the base of identification with irreflexive, traditionally given symbols of a local culture. Post-traditional identity does not refer to the past, but to the future, which has optinal as well as contigent character. Post-traditional identity is formed through participation in a kind of intersubjectivity which has a reflexive and universal structure. I explain this model of intersubjectivity by means of a contemparative analysis of two opposite concepts of interpersonal communication, respectively of the relationship between I and We-namely those of Charles Taylor and Jurgen Habermas.
Volume 6, Number 2, Winter 1999
Stories for and by Students: Personalizing the Teaching of Philosophy
Joel H. Marks
In the beginning I was the typical academic philosophy professor and teacher, whose stock in trade was argumentative essays about abstract issues. It puzzled, or bemused, even distressed me, therefore, when I would sometimes hear my students refer to the assigned readings in my course as stories. I attributed this inappropriate nomenclature to their inexperience with anything other than fiction and literature prior to their first philosophy course. But the shoe is now on the other foot. I myself have become the purveyor of stories: I write them, I assign them as reading, and I ask my students to write their own.
Eros and the Future: Levinas’s Philosophy of Family
Laura Duhan Kaplan
The paper is triggered by an account of a midnight when wordless strands of erotic and parental love began to weave themselves together into a theory of the family. The theory is then put into words, borrowing from Emmanuel Levinas’s discussion of “Eros and Fecundity” in Totality and Infinity. A commitment to family is simply a special case of ethical relationships n which family members are constantly drawn outside of themselves in response to one another. To have family connections is to have a future, i.e., a commitment to what is unknown, unknowable, and ever unfolding.
The Ghosts Within Us, The Others Without: My Father, My Self
Charles W. Harvey
In this essay I use personal narrative concerning my father and myself to compare and contrast the Heideggerian/sociological idea of “being-alongside-others”” in the public world with the more classical philosophical ideal of intersubjective contact between two selves. I try to show that “being-alongside-others” in the public world does not dissolve the issue of intersubjectivity. To do this, I use narrative vignettes and develop some ideas about the role that intimacy plays in developing the sense of self; in particular, I reflect on this process in terms of the relations of parents and children.
Wishing and Hoping: Some Thoughts on the Place of the Future in a Philosophy of the Present
In this essay I think about the ways in which orientation towards the future plays a central role in constituting meaningful lives. Much intellectual work on the nature of persons takes our existence as something given and static, and much of it treats persons as either isolated individuals, or as completely subsumed within a social identity. However, we are both, and neither; we are always individuals, and we are always social creatures, and yet we are never fully either of these. Understanding who and what we are in each of these ways reveals something important, but each understanding also reduces us and limits our self-comprehension in dangerous ways. In response I suggest that we refashion the notion of “hope” as an act of subjective faith and self-creation, and as an orientation only possible within free and loving human communities. Perhaps this is willfully naive, but without hope it seems we will drift, or be driven, and our lives will fail to be ours.
Seeking Loyalty: A Personal and Philosophical Journey
Philosopher Without Portfolio: Seeking the Truth in Everyday Life
Patricia J. Thompson
Not every philosopher engages in personal reflection, and many who reflect would not count themselves philosophers. For this writer, “narrative” is the natural expression of reflection. This paper traces the origins of a philosophical standpoint that exists outside of the conventional discourses of philosophy. Informed by feminist writing on “the other,” it suggests that by revising two archetypal figures in Greek mythology previously discussed in PCW (Thomson 1996; 1998), it may be possible to discern two “ways of knowing” that are complementary, but not necessarily confined by gender. Based on a reconceptualization of the ancient Greek oikos and polis, the proposed paradigm describes two mutually defining systems of action-the Hestian (domestic) and the Hermean (civic) that co-exist and co-emerge in everyday life.
Becoming What I Was (Not): Thoughts on Bible Stories and Sartrean Existentialism
In this essay I analyze my early childhood training in fundamentalist Christianity in terms of my more recent readings of Sartrean existentialism; to a lesser extent, I suggest how Christian doctrine sheds light on some of Sartre’s insights. Since this essay is an exercise in philosophy through personal narrative, my life is used as the mediating juncture of these two systems of thought.
Volume 6, Numbers 3-4, Fall-Winter 1999
The Deep Spirit of the Enlightenment: A Defense
Robert M. Baird
Currently the Enlightenment tradition is under such intense attack that Richard Bernstein calls the present mood a ” rage against the enlightenment.” The purpose of this essay is to defend the deep spirit of the Enlightenment, the position that no idea, proposition, or principle should be beyond critical assessment. The defense involves an examination of and a response to two criticisms of the Enlightenment: first that the Enlightenment disdainfully rejects religion, particularly Christianity, and second that Enlightenment thinkers had a misguided confidence in the powers of a-historical reason, i.e. the notion that humans have a rational capacity, unaffected by context or historical circumstance, to arrive at truth.
Language and Intersubjectivity: Recognizing the Other Without Taking Over or Giving In
Using the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jessica Benjamin, I here describe the role of language in achieving intersubjective relationships among persons.
The Implications of Consistency: Plato on Protagoras and Heidegger onTechnology
Scholars have argued that Socrates’ activity in Plato’s early dialogues involves generating, or exposing, logical inconsistencies within his interlocuters belief-sets. Possessing an inconsistent set of beliefs undermines coherence and is considered a great danger. In contrast to the prevailing view, I claim that it is not inconsistency as much as consistency that Socrates often regards as the greatest threat. Using the figure of Protagoras in Plato’s Protagoras and insights gained from Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology,” I suggest that it is Protagoras’s emphasis on technology and science (techne) that Socrates finds disturbing. It is Protagoras’ consistent shift in worldview away from Athenian belief in chance or luck (tuche), that poses the greatest danger, according to Socrates–a danger still evident, according to Heidegger, in the modern world.
The Aesthetics of Nature
Noel E. Boulting
Three paradigms for making sense of the aesthetic experience of nature–Specularism, Scientific Exemplarism and Perspectivalism–are found in the literature on the aesthetics of nature. The first focuses on seeing nature as a picture, the second on grasping aesthetic experience through the categories of scientific enquiry and the third emphasized a more phenomenological relation between the experienced and experiencer. After the historical development which fashioned Specularism’s approach to aesthetics has been indicated and the ahistorical nature of Scientific Exemplarism has been explained, the relative strengths of these three paradigms are explored before the implications of the third are related to a possible spiritual view of nature.
Sociality and the Aesthetic Sphere: The Revelations of Offense and Transgression
In this paper, I examine the textual evidence for the thesis that the so-called “aesthetic sphere” of existence as depicted in Either/Or, Part 1, is best described as a certain mode of relation to the social: a relation of distrust and despite. Throughout that work, themes of distrust, misunderstanding, offense, and deliberate deception recur in different profiles; I offer a social diagnosis of the “aesthetic” and support the analysis through interpretation of the text.
Cities and the Place of Philosophy
This essay takes seriously Heidegger’s claim that a given place influences what gets built in it, which both expresses and creates how we dwell in that place. This in turn is a guiding metaphor for how we think about ourselves as dwellers, which for Heidegger is the true nature of philosophy. I argue that philosophy itself is most fully supported in an urban, city environment.
The Existential Condition at the Millennium
Ralph D. Ellis
This essay describes the authentic use of religious experience to address the value expressive dimension of being human. The value expressive dimension intensifies our experiential affirmation of the value of existence itself in a way not available through attaining valued or valuable outcomes.
Sentimentality and Human Rights: Critical Remarks on Rorty
Richard Rorty has recently argued that support for human rights ought to be cultivated in terms of a sentimental education which manipulated our emotions through detailed stories intended to produce feelings of sympathy and solidarity. Rorty contends that a sentimental education will be more effective in promoting respect for human rights than will a moral discourse grounded on rationality and universalism. In this paper, I critically examine Rorty’s proposal and argue that it fails to recognize the necessity of moral reasoning in creating and implementing the types of international human rights regimes which are required precisely when our sympathy is lacking or completely fails. In addition to a sentimental education, an effective human rights culture must include strong principles of moral agency, such as freedom and equality, and a commitment to the institutionalization of those principles as human rights norms.
Alienation in the “Cashless Society”
Barry L. Padgett
Since the global political events of the early 1990’s Marxian philosophy has faced significant challenges. This essay attempts to reinterpret Marx’s theory of alienation in light of contemporary social issues. In particular, Marx claims that labor is alienated because workers lose control over the process of production, its outcomes and effects. In order to support my argument that alienation of labor is still a relevant concept to post-modern, post-industrial social critique, I examine the contemporary proliferation of credit (especially in the form of credit cards) in the United States. I demonstrate that the preponderance and reliance on credit in American culture serves as an excellent example of Marxian alienation.
Making A Meaningful Life: Rereading Beauvoir
William C. Pamerlau
In this paper, I will explain the key elements of freedom in Beauvoir’s work, and I will show that they acknowledge a process of development and the effects of socialization. This account of freedom, I will argue, makes her view more attractive than the views of other existentialists, which many find to be too rooted in a subject-centered philosophy. However, to make Beauvoir’s views on freedom more consistent with contemporary philosophy, I suggest we read them as offering us a goal to achieve and not a capacity that we have inherently.