Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s work of fiction can roughly be grouped into three distinct categories, each evoking a singular extraordinary state of mind. Poe-inspired tales of the macabre such as “The Tomb” (1917) and “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (1919) produce terror because of the atmosphere they convey and because of the particular end the main characters meet. Lovecraft’s later “Yog-Sothothery” or work in the Cthulhu Mythos tradition, including his signature pieces of weird fiction “The Call of Cthulhu” (1926) and (...) “The Shadow over Innsmouth” (1931), inspires ‘horror’ because the life-worlds of the protagonists in these stories are utterly destroyed. However, the gentleman of Providence is also known for a different sort of fiction. His Dunsanian tales—among them short stories such as “The White Ship” (1919), “Celephaïs” (1920), and the three works“ The Silver Key” (1926), The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926–27), and “Through the Gates of the Silver Key” (1932–33; with E. Hoffmann Price), centered on the exploits of Lovecraft’s recurring character and alter ego Randolph Carter—are epitomes to this feat. These prehistoric or dreamland tales do not inspire ‘terror’ or ‘horror’; rather, they predominately seek to evoke the extraordinary state of mind called ‘wonder. This article offers a preliminary exploration of Lovecraft’s relationship with wonder, highlights what wonder is, how Lovecraft was exposed to wonder at an early age, and argues that he developed a lifelong positive relationship with this particular state of mind. (shrink)
Principled discussions of civil rights became inherently less likely as a direct result of the observation by Earl Warren, in Brown v. Board of Education, that, respecting freedmen, “Education of Negroes was almost non-existent, and practically all of the race were illiterate,” and in proportion as that observation increasingly became the foundation of common opinion on the subject. Warren's observation was not true in any meaningful or non-trivial sense. Nevertheless, it served to perpetuate the myth of a backward people needing (...) help to catch up instead of the truth of a people being held back. That is the perspective – the disadvantaged group perspective – that ultimately infected all discussion of civil rights, even after the designation of so-called “disadvantaged groups” had been extended beyond American blacks. To define civil rights, we may well begin with what all mankind would likely recognize. Thus the dictionary definition of “civil rights” stands: “the rights that belong to all individuals in a nation or community touching property, marriage, and the like.” In that definition the term “rights” may be further expanded to mean “legitimate claims,” following the definition of right as law – as “a claim or title or interest in anything whatever that is enforceable by law.” This definition applies with minimal distinction of regimes intruding and, therefore, without the host of recent complications in the United States that create the impression that civil rights have something to do with pluralism. Previously, the generic definition was thought to exhaust the meaning of the term in the United States. (shrink)
Anyone who has pondered the limitlessness of space and time, or the endlessness of numbers, or the perfection of God will recognize the special fascination of this question. Adrian Moore's historical study of the infinite covers all its aspects, from the mathematical to the mystical.
A. W. Moore argues in this bold, unusual, and ambitious book that it is possible to think about the world from no point of view. His argument involves discussion of a very wide range of fundamental philosophical issues, including the nature of persons, the subject-matter of mathematics, realism and anti-realism, value, the inexpressible, and God. The result is a powerful critique of our own finitude.
In this essay I consider the argument that Bernard Williams advances in ‘The Makropolus Case’ for the meaninglessness of immortality. I also consider various counter-arguments. I suggest that the more clearly these counter-arguments are targeted at the spirit of Williams's argument, rather than at its letter, the less clearly they pose a threat to it. I then turn to Nietzsche, whose views about the eternal recurrence might appear to make him an opponent of Williams. I argue that, properly interpreted, these (...) views in fact make him an ally. (shrink)
[A. W. Moore] There are criteria of ineffability whereby, even if the concept of ineffability can never serve to modify truth, it can sometimes serve to modify other things, specifically understanding. This allows for a reappraisal of the dispute between those who adopt a traditional reading of Wittgenstein's Tractatus and those who adopt the new reading recently championed by Diamond, Conant, and others. By maintaining that what the nonsense in the Tractatus is supposed to convey is ineffable understanding, rather than (...) ineffable truth, we can do considerable justice to each of these readings. We can also do considerable justice to the Tractatus. /// [Peter Sullivan] Moore proposes to cut between 'traditional' and 'new' approaches to the Tractatus, suggesting that Wittgenstein's intention is to convey, through the knowing use of nonsense, ineffable understanding. I argue, first, that there is indeed room for a proposal of Moore's general kind. Secondly, though, I question whether Moore's actual proposal is not more in tune with Wittgenstein's later thought than with the attitude of the Tractatus. (shrink)
This essay was written for a special issue of Philosophical Topics on the links between Kant and analytic philosophy. It explores these links through consideration of: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus; the logical positivism endorsed by Ayer; and the (very different) variation on that theme endorsed by Quine. It is argued that in all three cases we see analytic philosophers trying to attain and express a general philosophical understanding of why the bounds of sense should be drawn where they should—but thereby confronting the (...) aporia, which Kant too confronted, that it is impossible to do this without transgressing those very bounds. It is suggested in conclusion that the problem is in trying to attain and express such an understanding; in other words, that such an understanding is attainable, but not expressible. (shrink)