The Two Faces of Stoicism: Rousseau and Freud AMI~LIE OKSENBERGRORTY Nor do the Stoics mean that the soul of their wisest man resists the first visions and sudden fantasies that surprise [him]: but [he] rather consents that, as it were to a natural subjection, he yields .... So likewise in other passions, always provided his opinions remain safe and whole, and.., his reason admit no tainting or alteration, and he in no whit consents to his fright and (...) sufferance. Montaigne, Essays, I. 1 THE STOICS ARE A WEIGHTY EMBARRASSMENT to their friends who, like myself, want to defend them from the charges that their views are at best vague or ludicrous, perhaps offensive or inconsistent. There is no doubt that some of their pronouncements seem material for Aristophanic comedy, others callous and yet others incoherent. And there is also no doubt that they openly defy common sense and deliberately change the terminology they inherit, introduc- ing neologisms ad hoc. And yet, and yet -- it is no accident that they continue, rightly continue, to have a powerful hold on ordinary belief and acute philo- sophical reflection. Here -- in what is itself a parody -- are some of the commonplaces famil- iarly attributed to the Stoics.' First, the notorious matter of Stoic apatheia. Diogenes Laertius reports that I believe, but cannot here argue, that despite the signficant differences between early, middle and late Stoics, the classical Stoics shared a common agenda. It is.. (shrink)
The essays in this volume form a commentary on Descartes' Meditations. Following the sequence of the meditational stages, the authors analyze the function of each stage in transforming the reader, to realize his essential nature as a rational inquirer, capable of scientific, demonstrable knowledge of the world. There are essays on the genre of meditational writing, on the implications of the opening cathartic section of the book on Descartes' theory of perception and his use of skeptical arguments; essays on the (...) theory of ideas and their role of Descartes' reconstructive analytic method; essays on the proofs for the existence of God, on the role of the will in the formation and malformation of judgments; and the essays on the foundations of the science of extension and on Descartes' account of the union of mind and body. (shrink)
Philosophy is a dangerous profession, risking censorship, prison, even death. And no wonder: philosophers have questioned traditional pieties and threatened the established political order. Some claimed to know what was thought unknowable; others doubted what was believed to be certain. Some attacked religion in the name of science; others attacked science in the name of mystical poetry; some served tyrants; others were radical revolutionaries. This historically based collection of philosophers' reflections--the letters, journals, prefaces that reveal their hopes and hesitations, their (...) triumphs and struggles, their deepest doubts and convictions--allow us to witness philosophical thought-in-process. It sheds light on the many--and conflicting--aims of philosophy: to express skepticism or overcome it, to support theology or attack it, to develop an ethical system or reduce it to practical politics. As their audiences differed, philosophers experimented with distinctive rhetorical strategies, writing dialogues, meditations, treatises, aphorisms. Ranging from Plato to Hannah Arendt, with contributions from 44 philosophers this remarkable collection documents philosophers' claim that they change as well as understand the world. In her introductory essay, "Witnessing Philosophers," Amelie Rorty locates philosophers' reflections in the larger context of the many facets of their other activities and commitments. (shrink)
This paper gives an account of the picture of the self that saves the phenomena of self-deception. On one theory of the self, the phenomena of selfdeception are incoherent: the self as a unified critically reflective rational inquirer cannot deceive itself. On another theory of the self, the phenomena evaporate: the self as a loosely organized system composed of relatively independent subsystems can be conflicted, mistaken, ignorant compartmentalized. But it does not deceive itself. Our practices as moral agents and rational (...) inquirers are explained by the first theory; our capacities as adaptive survivors are explained by the second. Neither picture can be reduced to the other; neither can be abandoned. The phenomena of selfdeception appear - and are saved - by the superimposition of the two theories. (shrink)
Spinoza’s project of showing how the mind can be freed from its passive affects and the State from its divisive factions ultimately coincides with the aims announced in the subtitle of the Tractatus-Theologico-Politicus “to demonstrate that [the] freedom to philosophize does not endanger the piety and obedience required for civic peace.”1 Both projects rest on a set of provisional isomorphic distinctions—between adequate and inadequate ideas, between reason and the imagination, between active and passive affects—that Spinoza proceeds to blur, and indeed (...) to renounce. In using these distinctions while also moving to overcome them, Spinoza is not confused or indecisive. Every philosopher, every wise Sovereign, every free man who attempts to incorporate adequate ideas in inadequately framed, perspectivally limited contexts must use these distinctions and also see how deeply misleading they are. I want to offer a friendly amendment to Hasana Sharpe’s essay “The Force of Ideas in Spinoza” arguing that Spinoza refuses her distinction between the force of an idea and its truth.2. (shrink)
Aristotle's philosophy of mind has recently attracted renewed attention and respect from philosophers. This volume brings together outstanding new essays on De Anima by a distinguished international group of contributors including, in this paperback efdition, a new essay by Myles Burnyeat. The essays form a running commentary on the work, covering such topics as the relation between body and soul, sense-perception, imagination, memory, desire, and thought. the authors, writing with philosophical subtlety and wide-ranging scholarship, present the philosophical substance of Aristotle's (...) views to the modern reader. they locate their interpretations firmly within the context of Aristotle's thought as a whole. (shrink)
Spinoza's project of showing how the mind can be freed from its passive affects and the State from its divisive factions (E IV.Appendix and V.Preface) ultimately coincides with the aims announced in the subtitle of the Tractatus-Theologico-Politicus (TTP) "to demonstrate that [the] freedom to philosophize does not endanger the piety and obedience required for civic peace." Both projects rest on a set of provisional isomorphic distinctions—between adequate and inadequate ideas, between reason and the imagination, between active and passive affects—that Spinoza (...) proceeds to blur, and indeed to renounce. In using these distinctions while also moving to overcome them, Spinoza is not confused or indecisive. Every philosopher, every wise Sovereign, every free man who attempts to incorporate adequate ideas in inadequately framed, perspectivally limited contexts must use these distinctions and also see how deeply misleading they are. I want to offer a friendly amendment to Hasana Sharpe's essay "The Force of Ideas in Spinoza" arguing that Spinoza refuses her distinction between the force of an idea and its truth. (shrink)
The essays in this volume form a commentary on Descartes' _Meditations_. Following the sequence of the meditational stages, the authors analyze the function of each stage in transforming the reader, to realize his essential nature as a rational inquirer, capable of scientific, demonstrable knowledge of the world. There are essays on the genre of meditational writing, on the implications of the opening cathartic section of the book on Descartes' theory of perception and his use of skeptical arguments; essays on the (...) theory of ideas and their role of Descartes' reconstructive analytic method; essays on the proofs for the existence of God, on the role of the will in the formation and malformation of judgments; and the essays on the foundations of the science of extension and on Descartes' account of the union of mind and body. (shrink)
The thirty-three essays in <I>Relativism: A Contemporary Anthology</I> grapple with one of the most intriguing, enduring, and far-reaching philosophical problems of our age. Relativism comes in many varieties. It is often defined as the belief that truth, goodness, or beauty is relative to some context or reference frame, and that no absolute standards can adjudicate between competing reference frames. Michael Krausz's anthology captures the significance and range of relativistic doctrines, rehearsing their virtues and vices and reflecting on a spectrum of (...) attitudes. Invoking diverse philosophical orientations, these doctrines concern conceptions of relativism in relation to facts and conceptual schemes, realism and objectivity, universalism and foundationalism, solidarity and rationality, pluralism and moral relativism, and feminism and poststructuralism. Featuring nine original essays, the volume also includes many classic articles, making it a standard resource for students, scholars, and researchers. <B>Table of Contents:</B> Foreword by Alan Ryan Preface Introduction Michael Krausz <B>Part I. Orienting Relativism</B> 1. Mapping Relativisms Michael Krausz 2. A Brief History of Relativism Maria Baghramian <B>Part II. Relativism, Truth, and Knowledge</B> 3. Subjective, Objective, and Conceptual Relativisms Maurice Mandelbaum 4. “Just the Facts, Ma’am!” Nelson Goodman 5. Relativism in Philosophy of Science Nancy Cartwright 6. The Truth About Relativism Joseph Margolis 7. Making Sense of Relative Truth John MacFarlane 8. On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme Donald Davidson 9. Truth and Convention: On Davidson’s Refutation of Conceptual Relativism Hilary Putnam 10. Conceptual Schemes Simon Blackburn 11. Relativizing the Facts Paul A. Boghossian 12. Targets of Anti-Relativist Arguments Harvey Siegel 13. Realism and Relativism Akeel Bilgrami <B>Part III. Moral Relativism, Objectivity, and Reasons</B> 14. Moral Relativism Defended Gilbert Harman 15. The Truth in Relativism Bernard Williams 16. Pluralism and Ambivalence David B. Wong 17. The Relativity of Fact and the Objectivity of Value Catherine Z. Elgin 18. Senses of Moral Relativity David Wiggins 19. Ethical Relativism and the Problem of Incoherence David Lyons 20. Understanding Alien Morals Gopal Sreenivasan 21. Value: Realism and Objectivity Thomas Nagel 22. Intuitionism, Realism, Relativism, and Rhubarb Crispin Wright 23. Moral Relativism and Moral Realism Russ Schafer-Landau <B>Part IV. Relativism, Culture, and Understanding</B> 24. Anti Anti-Relativism Clifford Geertz 25. Solidarity or Objectivity? Richard Rorty 26. Relativism, Power, and Philosophy Alasdair MacIntyre 27. Internal Criticism and Indian Rationalist Traditions Martha C. Nussbaum and Amartya Sen 28. Phenomenological Rationality and the Overcoming of Relativism Jitendra N. Mohanty 29. Understanding and Ethnocentricity Charles Taylor 30. Relativism and Cross-Cultural Understanding Kwame Anthony Appiah 31. Relativism, Persons, and Practices Amélie OksenbergRorty 32. One What? Relativism and Poststructuralism David Couzens Hoy 33. Must a Feminist Be a Relativist After All? Lorraine Code List of Contributors Index. (shrink)
Courage is dangerous. If it is defined in traditional ways, as a set of dispositions to overcome fear, to oppose obstacles, to perform difficult or dangerous actions, its claim to be a virtue is questionable. Unlike the virtue of justice, or a sense of proportion, traditional courage does not itself determine what is to be done, let alone assure that it is worth doing. If we retain the traditional conception of courage and its military connotations–overcoming and combat–we should be suspicious (...) of it. Instead of automatically classifying it as a virtue, attempting to develop and exercise it, we should become alert to its dangers. And yet and yet. There is an aspect of traditional courage that serves us: we require the capacities and traits that enable us to persist in acting well under stress, to endure hardships when following our judgments about what is best is difficult or dangerous. If courage is checked, redefined as the virtue that enables virtue–the various sets of dispositions, whatever they may be, that make us resolute in worthy, difficult action–then we need not fear the dangers of courage. We need rather to reform it by diversifying it, as a heterogeneous variety of traits that enable us to act well under stress, against the natural movements of self-protection. (shrink)
During the period from Descartes to Rousseau, the mind changed. Its domain was redefined; its activities were redescribed; and its various powers were redistributed. Once a part of cosmic Nous, its various functions delimited by its embodied condition, the individual mind now becomes a field of forces with desires impinging on one another, their forces resolved according to their strengths and directions. Of course since there is no such thing as The Mind Itself, it was not the mind that changed. (...) Conceptions of the mind changed. Yet even to say this is misleading, because it suggests that somewhere out there in nowhere there is Nous, Psyche, Soul or Mind, the true but opaque object of all these conceptions. But of course there is no Mind in the realm of things in themselves, waiting for us to see it truly, like a China of the noumenal world, amused that our various conceptions reveal as much about ourselves as about it. (shrink)
There is more akrasia than meets the eye: it can occur in speech and perception, cognitively and emotionally as well as between decision and action. The lures of akrasia are the same as those that are exercised in ordinary psychological and cognitive inferential contexts. But because it is over-determined and because it occurs in opaque intentional contexts, its attribution remains highly fallible.
Many have said, and I think some have shown, that it is irrational to fear death. The extinction of what is essential to the self—whether it be biological death or the permanent cessation of consciousness—cannot by definition be experienced by oneself as a loss or as a harm.
Since many varieties of self-deception are ineradicable and useful, it would be wise to be ambivalent about at least some of its forms.1 It is open-eyed ambivalence that acknowledges its own dualities rather than ordinary shifty vacillation that we need. To be sure, self-deception remains dangerous: sensible ambivalence should not relax vigilance against pretence and falsity, combating irrationality and obfuscation wherever they occur.
It is tempting and even useful to read the history of ethics from Hobbes to Rousseau, and even to Kant, as a response to the devastation of making self-interest—the movement to the satisfaction of particular ego-oriented desires—either the basic motive, or the basic form of motivational explanation. After Hobbes, philosophical ingenuity allied with Christian sensibility to search for countervailing forces.
‘Our passions are psychological instruments,’ Rousseau says, ‘with which nature has armed our hearts for the defence of our persons and of all that is necessary for our well-being. [But] the more we need external things, the more we are vulnerable to obstacles that can overwhelm us; and the more numerous and complex our passions become. They are naturally proportionate to our needs.’.