The paper has two main parts. First, I introduce the eudaimonistic setting of the epistemological discussions in book one and – very briefly – and make a few points about book two. Second, in an analysis of book three, I show how Augustine relieves a tension which was present between the conclusions of books one and two and how the relief of that tension culminates in a critique of the skeptic’s eudaimonistic claims more so than their epistemological ones.
This is my first published paper, written over a decade ago. I can't remember exactly what I argued in it, but I can assure you that the follow up paper "Epistemology and Eudaimonism in Augustine's Contra Academicos" is better.
This paper provides an introduction and overview of Michel Henry's work, with particular emphasis on his understanding of auto-affectivity. It concludes by pointing to some objections or questions sympathetic phenomenologists may have for his work.
[From the publisher] "Augustine and Roman Virtue" seeks to correct what the author sees as a fundamental misapprehension in medieval thought, a misapprehension that fuels further problems and misunderstandings in the historiography of philosophy. This misapprehension is the assumption that the development of certain themes associated with medieval philosophy is due, primarily if not exclusively, to extra-philosophical religious commitments rather than philosophical argumentation, referred to here as the ‘sacralization thesis'. Brian Harding explores this problem through a detailed reading of Augustine's (...) City of God as understood in a Latin context, that is, in dialogue with Latin writers such as Cicero, Livy, Sallust and Seneca. The book seeks to revise a common reading of Augustine's critique of ancient virtue by focusing on that dialogue, while showing that his attitude towards those authors is more sympathetic, and more critical, than one might expect. Harding argues that the criticisms rest on sympathy and that Augustine's critique of ancient virtue thinks through and develops certain trends noticeable in the major figures of Latin philosophy. (shrink)
This paper argues that suicide is very important for Cicero’s articulation and defense of the philosophical life. Happiness, according to Cicero, is dependent upon a willingness to commit suicide. I explain why this is the case through a discussion of On Ends and the Tusculan Disputations. I conclude with some critical remarks about Cicero’s argument, with reference to book XIX of Augustine’s City of God.
This paper focuses on the figure of Alexander the Great in Augustine's City of God. It argues that Alexander is used to as a negative exemplar, showing the short coming of Roman virtue. It is easier for Augustine's interlocutors to recognize the flaws in Alexander (a non-Roman) than to recognize flaws in Roman heroes. However, once the flaws in Alexander are identified, the flaws in Rome are easier to discern.
This essay is concerned with defending Husserl against the criticism that he is insuffi ciently attentive to intersubjectivity. It has two moments; the fi rst articulates what I take to be a general version of the critique and then turns to a discussion of a version derived from Wittgenstein’s private language argument and the ensuing debate regarding this critique between Suzanne Cunningham and Peter Hutcheson. This discussion concludes by noting a general agreement betweenthe two participants that Husserl’s ego is not (...) directly involved in intersubjective relationships. I argue that as long as this is granted, the broader criticism cannot be answered. Whence, the second moment defends Husserl against this critique arguing that Husserl’s transcendental ego is an intersubjective one. (shrink)
Bergson scholars such as Leonard Lawlor, Alexander Lefebvre, Philip Soulez, and Frederic Worms have recently argued that Bergson “places the phenomenon of war at the center of his analysis” in Two Sources of Morality and Religion. We want to contribute to this line of interpretation. We claim that Bergson’s account of the causes of, and solution to, the problem of war can be effectively understood in light of a central tenet of classical political philosophy, namely, the City of God, both (...) the concept and Augustine’s great text, de Civitate dei contra paganos. We highlight the shared view of the root of war in Augustine and Bergson, namely the lust for domination, libido dominandi. Our contribution provides a useful heuristic for understanding Bergson’s account of war, not a claim of Augustine’s influence on Bergson. (shrink)
In this paper, relying mainly on his "Preface for Germans" I describe Ortega's complaints about Husserl's transcendental reduction, his own "anti-idealistic" approach to phenomenology, and his alternative version of the reduction, a reduction to life. Similarities with the work of Michel Henry are noted, but not explored in detail. Mention is made of Graham Harmon's interpretation of Ortega in "Guerrilla Metaphysics," but only to set up my interpretation of Ortega.
The interplay between violence, religion, and politics is a central problem for societies and has attracted the attention of important philosophers, including Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, and René Girard. Centuries earlier during the Italian Renaissance, these same problems drew the interest of Niccolò Machiavelli. In Not Even a God Can Save Us Now, Brian Harding argues that Machiavelli’s work anticipates – and often illuminates – contemporary theories on the place of violence in our lives. While remaining cognizant of the historical (...) and cultural context of Machiavelli’s writings, Harding develops Machiavelli’s accounts of sacrifice, truth, religion, and violence and places them in conversation with those of more contemporary thinkers. Including in-depth discussions of Machiavelli’s works The Prince and Discourses on Livy, as well as his Florentine Histories, The Art of War, and other less widely discussed works, Harding interprets Machiavelli as endorsing sacrificial violence that founds or preserves a state, while censuring other forms of violence. This reading clarifies a number of obscure themes in Machiavelli’s writings, and demonstrates how similar themes are at work in the thought of recent phenomenologists. The first book to approach both Machiavellian and contemporary continental thought in this way, Not Even a God Can Save Us Now is a highly original and provocative approach to both the history of philosophy and to contemporary debates about violence, religion, and politics. (shrink)
A substantial part of Marion’s project in Being Given turns on a “triple epoché” wherein Marion brackets each part of the tripartite structure of the gift – the giver, the recipient and the given itself – to show that none of them is essential for thinking about the gift. In three separate variations, each element of the gift is bracketed individually, and in each of these instances the other two elements are specifically not bracketed. Indeed, Marion admits that the reduction (...) he proposes “demands, de jure, that one of the two [recipient or giver] remain in position of the transcendental I.” In this paper, I will argue that the rule is misleading and should be reformulated to indicate that a recipient is always required. I conclude with some suggestions for future work. (shrink)
In this paper I look at Dominique Janicaud’s proposal for a minimalist phenomenology. He develops this proposal in Phenomenology wide open, a sequel of sorts to his essay on the ‘Theological turn.’ Eschewing his polemics, I try to determine (a) the problem that he hopes minimalist phenomenology will solve; (b) the nature of this minimalism and how it differs from other approaches to phenomenology; and (c) critically evaluate some aspects of this minimalism, wondering if the gains of minimalist phenomenology are (...) worth what is given up in minimizing it. (shrink)
[From the publisher]Taking the term “phenomenologist” in a fairly broad sense, Early Phenomenology focuses on those early exponents of the intellectual discipline, such as Buber, Ortega and Scheler rather than those thinkers that would later eclipse them; indeed the volume precisely means to bring into question what it means to be a phenomenologist, a category that becomes increasingly more fluid the more we distance ourselves from the gravitational pull of philosophical giants Husserl and Heidegger. In focusing on early phenomenology this (...) volume seeks to examine the movement before orthodoxies solidified. More than merely adding to the story of phenomenology by looking closer at thinkers without the same fame as Husserl or Heidegger and the representatives of their legacy, the essays relate to one of the earlier thinkers with figures that are either more contemporary or more widely read, or both. Beyond merely filling in the historical record and reviving names, the chapters of this book will also give contemporary readers reasons to take these figures seriously as phenomenologists, radically reordering of our understanding of the lineage of this major philosophical movement. (shrink)
This paper attempts to forge a dialogue between Machiavelli and Andrew Feenburg's Critical Theory of Technology. It makes some interesting points along the way, but I've re-thought a lot of what I say in here, and am not sure if I would still endorse it all.
This paper contrasts the 'old' phenomenology of religion, in the form of G. van der Leeuw, with the work of a representative 'new' phenomenologist of religion, M. Henry. The central contrast drawn in the paper is between van der Leeuw's understanding of "life" with that of Michel Henry, but some points about basic methodological differences are made as well.
Many proponents and opponents of the Corrida de Toros agree in describing the practice as a sacrifice. This surprising agreement is compounded by a further agreement that the sacrificial victim is the bull. In what follows, I contest both points. Beginning with the later, I argue that the victim is not the bull but the torero, especially the matador. Rather than seeing the corrida as the sacrifice of the bull, it is the deferred sacrifice of the torero, and the crowd (...) is on the side of the victim. Moreover, I argue that once the victim status of the matador has been appreciated, it can serve as the foundation for a new interpretation of... (shrink)
This paper is a discussion and critique of G. Harmon's interpretation of Ortega 's work, as set out in Harmon's "Guerrilla Metaphysics." I argue that while Harmon is right to point out Ortega 's critique of idealism, Ortega nevertheless remains a 'philosopher of access.' Ortega 's disagrees with the idealist i claim that we access reality through ideas, but agrees with the more basic point that philosophy ought to give an account of how we access reality.
This paper argues that Boethius’ De Consolatione Philosophiae presents theoretical metaphysical speculation as having a direct bearing on the life of the metaphysician. Boethius accomplishes this through his depiction of Lady Philosophy’s ‘therapy’ wherein complex metaphysical arguments are utilized to pull Boethius out of his depression, returning him to what she calls his true self. I begin the paper by contextualizing this discussion in terms of the debate as to whether or not the ‘philosophic life’ of pagan antiquity is present (...) in medieval thought. I then turn to a discussion of the therapeutic metaphysical arguments of Lady Philosophy and their effects on Boethius’ mental and emotional state. I conclude the essay by listing some questions raised and directions for further study. (shrink)
This paper argues that Boethius' De Consolatione Philosophiae presents theoretical metaphysical speculation as having a direct bearing on the life of the metaphysician. Boethius accomplishes this through his depiction of Lady Philosophy's `therapy' wherein complex metaphysical arguments are utilized to pull Boethius out of his depression, returning him to what she calls his true self. I begin the paper by contextualizing this discussion in terms of the debate as to whether or not the `philosophic life' of pagan antiquity is present (...) in medieval thought. I then turn to a discussion of the therapeutic metaphysical arguments of Lady Philosophy and their effects on Boethius' mental and emotional state. I conclude the essay by listing some questions raised and directions for further study. (shrink)