Nearly everyone has wronged another. Who among us has not longed to be forgiven? Who has not struggled to forgive? Charles Griswold has written the first comprehensive philosophical book on forgiveness in both its interpersonal and political contexts, as well as its relation to reconciliation. Having examined the place of forgiveness in ancient philosophy and in modern thought, he discusses what forgiveness is, what conditions the parties to it must meet, its relation to revenge and hatred, when it is permissible (...) and whether it is obligatory, and why it is a virtue. Griswold argues that forgiveness is inappropriate in politics, and analyzes the nature and limits of political apology with reference to historical examples. The book concludes with an examination of the relation between memory, narrative, and truth. (shrink)
In this award-winning study of the _Phaedrus_, Charles Griswold focuses on the theme of "self-knowledge." Relying on the principle that form and content are equally important to the dialogue's meaning, Griswold shows how the concept of self-knowledge unifies the profusion of issues set forth by Plato. Included are a new preface and an updated comprehensive bibliography of works on the _Phaedrus_.
Originally published by Routledge in 1988, this pioneering collection of essays now features a new preface and updated bibliography by the editor, reflecting the most significant developments in Plato scholarship during the past decade.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith are giants of eighteenth century thought. The heated controversy provoked by their competing visions of human nature and society still resonates today. Smith himself reviewed Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality, and his perceptive remarks raise an intriguing question: what would a conversation between these two great thinkers look like? In this outstanding book Charles Griswold analyses, compares and evaluates some of the key ways in which Rousseau and Smith address what could be termed "the question of (...) the self." Both thinkers discuss what we are by nature, who we have become, whether we can know ourselves or each other, how best to articulate the human condition, what it would mean to be free, and whether there is anything that can be done to remedy our deeply imperfect condition. In the course of examining their rich and contrasting views, Griswold puts Rousseau and Smith in dialogue by imagining what they might say in reply to one another. Griswold's wide-ranging exploration includes discussion of issues such as narcissism, self-falsification, sympathy, the scope of philosophy, and the relation between liberty, religion and civic order. A superb exploration of two major philosophers, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith: A Philosophical Encounter is essential reading for students and scholars of these two figures, eighteenth century philosophy, the Enlightenment, moral philosophy, the history of ideas. It will also be of interest to those in related disciplines such as political theory, economics, and religion. (shrink)
PLATO’S Protagoras is composed of three distinct frames. The outer frame consists in Socrates’ brief discussion with an unnamed companion. The remainder of the Protagoras is willingly narrated by Socrates to the companion, from memory of course, and apparently right after the main action. The inner frame consists in Socrates’ dialogue with Hippocrates. Roused before dawn by the impetuous young man, Socrates leads Hippocrates to reflect on the wisdom of his enthusiastic desire to study with Protagoras. This is a classic (...) and successful little example of Socratic dialogue. He then takes Hippocrates to meet Protagoras; the bulk of the dialogue—call it the innermost frame—consists in Socrates’ exchanges with Protagoras. Hippocrates does not utter a word in this part of the dialogue, though it is initiated at his request and seems undertaken by Socrates for his benefit. (shrink)
Despite the near universal desire for happiness, relatively little philosophy has been done to determine what? happiness? means. In this paper I examine happiness, and argue that it is best understood in terms of tranquillity. This is not merely?contentment.? Rather, happiness requires reflection?the kind of reflection characteristic of philosophy. Happiness is the product of correctly assessing its conditions, and like any assessment, one can be mistaken, and thus mistaken about whether one is happy. That is, one needs a correct understanding (...) of happiness in order to be happy. (shrink)
In this book, eminent scholars of classical antiquity and ancient and medieval Judaism and Christianity explore the nature and place of forgiveness in the pre-modern Western world. They discuss whether the concept of forgiveness, as it is often understood today, was absent, or at all events more restricted in scope than has been commonly supposed, and what related ideas may have taken the place of forgiveness. An introductory chapter reviews the conceptual territory of forgiveness and illuminates the potential breadth of (...) the idea, enumerating the important questions a theory of the subject should explore. The following chapters examine forgiveness in the contexts of classical Greece and Rome; the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, and Moses Maimonides; and the New Testament, the Church Fathers, and Thomas Aquinas. (shrink)
My reflections on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial were provoked some time ago in a quite natural way, by a visit to the memorial itself. I happened upon it almost by accident, a fact that is due at least in part to the design of the Memorial itself . I found myself reduced to awed silence, and I resolved to attend the dedication ceremony on November 13, 1982. It was an extraordinary event, without question the most moving public ceremony I have (...) ever attended. But my own experience of the Memorial on that and other occasions is far from unique. It is almost commonplace among the many visitors to the VVM—now the most visited of all the memorials in Washington—a fact so striking as to have compelled journalists, art historians, and architects to write countless articles about the monument. And although philosophers traditionally have had little to say about architecture in general or about that of memorials in particular, there is much in the VVM and its iconography worthy of philosophical reflection. Self-knowledge includes, I hazard to say, knowledge of ourselves as members of the larger social and political context, and so includes knowledge of that context.Architecture need not memorialize or symbolize anything; or it may symbolize, but not in a memorializing way, let alone in a way that is tied to a nation’s history. The structures on the Washington Mall belong to a particular species of recollective architecture, a species whose symbolic and normative content is prominent. After all, war memorials by their very nature recall struggles to the death over values. Still further, the architecture by which a people memorializes itself is a species of pedagogy. It therefore seeks to instruct posterity about the past and, in so doing, necessarily reaches a decision about what is worth recovering. It would thus be a mistake to try to view such memorials merely “aesthetically,” in abstraction from all judgments about the noble and the base. To reflect philosophically on specific monuments, as I propose to do here, necessarily requires something more than a simply technical discussion of the theory of architecture or of the history of a given species of architecture. We must also understand the monument’s symbolism, social context, and the effects its architecture works on those who participate in it. That is, we must understand the political iconography which shapes and is shaped y the public structure in question. To do less than this—if I may state a complex argument in hopelessly few words—is to fall short of the demands of true objectivity, of an understanding of the whole which the object is. To understand the meaning of the VVM requires that we understand, among other things, what the memorial means to those who visit it. This is why my observations about the dedication of the VVM and about the Memorial’s continuing power over people play an important role in this essay. Charles L. Griswold, associate professor of philosophy at Howard University, is the author of Self-Knowledge in Plat’s “Phaedrus” and has published widely in the areas of Greek philosophy, German Idealism, hermeneutics, and political philosophy. He is an editor of the Independent Journal of Philosophy and a recipient of numerous awards and fellowships. Currently he is working on a project which centers on Adam Smith’s notion of the “self” and Smith’s relationship to Stoicism and to the American Founding. (shrink)
In this essay I offer a detailed reply to three critics (whose commentaries are included in this issue of Philosophia) of my Forgiveness: a Philosophical Exploration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). The topics explored include the nature and limits of forgiveness; its unconditional or conditional character; the problem of distinguishing between central and marginal cases; the analysis of political apology; and questions of philosophical methodology.
In book Ten of the Laws, Plato's Athenian Stranger sets out the out lines of an argument of the sort that effectively dominated thinking for several millennia about the political role of religion. A polis that is to be free from faction and free for the right development of character requires a shared understanding of the human good and of the virtues of soul that are its components; religion provides that understanding in a way that connects up the human good (...) with the nature of the whole; as the function of government is to support civic peace and a flourishing citizenry, it must support the means thereto, namely, a civic religion; and effective support, in turn, requires state-enforced prohibitions against publicly expressed disavowals or corruptions of that dogma. Not just any dogma will do, of course, and the Stranger devotes a good deal of energy to setting out the principles of the new religion. (shrink)
At first glance style and philosophy bear an accidental or external relationship to each other. We might refer to Kant’s work, for example, as being stylistically bad, but philosophically seminal and interesting. That is, Kant’s writing could be criticized as being a poor instance of a given species of style. One would not criticize Kant’s style on the basis that it isn’t poetic enough, but rather on the basis that within the species of philosophical treatise writing, it fails to exhibit (...) the requisite clarity, compactness, and the like, which the best instances of that species ought to exhibit. And while one might lament the fact that Kant’s writing style isn’t one of the best instances of that species, one would not count this lament as a final or telling objection against Kant’s philosophy, i.e., against the content of his works. Of course the “content” of Kant’s writing could be objected to on the basis of its arguments’ validity, or of the truth of its premises, or of its formulation of the problem to be overcome. Such objections are normally not thought to concern the style, but rather the philosophy in question. The distinction here is frequently referred to as the “form-content” distinction. Thus, to paraphrase, at first glance form and content seem to bear an external relationship to each other in philosophy. (shrink)
SUMMARYWhy did Rousseau cast the substance of the Second Discourse in the form of a genealogy? In this essay the author attempts to work out the relation between the literary form of the Discourse's two main parts and the content. A key thesis of Rousseau's text concerns our lack of self-knowledge, indeed, our ignorance of our ignorance. The author argues that in a number of ways genealogical narrative is meant to respond to that lack. In the course of his discussion (...) he comments on Rousseau's puzzling remarks in the Second Discourse about his expository method. Further, given the thesis that we lack self-knowledge, Rousseau owes us an account of his genesis as self-knowing genealogist. He attempts to do so in part through his narrative of the ‘illumination of Vincennes’. The author examines that narrative as well, reading it and the Discourse in light of each other. Can Rousseau resolve the problems of self-reference that the philosophical use of genealogy often leads to? The article discusses this complex metaphilosophical problem, along with views about the value of genealogical accounts, in light of recent work by Robert Guay, John Kekes, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Frederick Neuhouser, among others. (shrink)
In part one of this essay i defend the thesis that the "greatest genera" of the "sophist" are not the metaphysical ideas of the earlier dialogues, and that the "participation" of these genera in each other is to be understood from a linguistic or logical, rather than metaphysical, perspective. the genera are like concepts, not essences. in part two i argue that the stranger's doctrine of the genera means that they cannot be unified, self-predicative, separable, and stable; the doctrine deteriorates (...) for reasons internal to itself. i suggest throughout that the stranger's philosophical orientation is more "subjectivistic" than that of (plato's) socrates; unlike the ideas, the genera are subject to the soul's intellectual motion and productive capacity. finally, i suggest that there is no convincing reason for holding that the stranger's views are superior to those of socrates. (shrink)
Listening represents a welcome contribution to the now substantial body of recent literature on Phaedrus. In the book's seven chapters, Ferrari discusses various parts of the dialogue and offers many helpful points along the way. For example, Ferrari's remarks are good on the controverted question as to whether the lover in the palinode "uses" the beloved, as are his observations about the struggle between the three parts of the soul. Ferrari persuasively points out that each part of the soul really (...) represents a way of life, a possible human type. Ferrari offers the novel and probably correct view that the question as to the authenticity of the speech attributed to Lysias is intended ironically by Plato to parallel the question as to whether the "demythologizers" are right to pursue the historical origins of myths. In his last chapter Ferrari surveys various approaches to the famous critique of writing, opting for a modified version of the view that the critique is meant to express a serious distrust of writing, that Plato thought he had discovered a way of writing that avoided the thrust of critique, and that the spoken word ultimately remains superior. Ferrari thus positions himself against Burger's and Derrida's interpretations. Ferrari rightly sees that the critique of writing engages the major issues of the dialogue and ought not be severed from them. (shrink)
Almost everyone believes that the sciences have progressed tremendously since antiquity. It thus seems that only devout classicists would bother with the study of ancient science, not to mention with the study of ancient science as transfigured by characters in a Platonic dialogue. However, this transfiguration already mitigates the charge of irrelevance. For what may be true of empirical science is not necessarily true of the philosophy of science. Many of the same problems which preoccupy contemporary philosophers of science also (...) preoccupied the ancients. Does science have an "a priori" character, and if so, how is the a priori connected with the empirical? Does science reveal "essential truths" buried in the empirical, or must it always operate under the constraints of imperfect sense perception, so remaining in the realm of the "phenomenal"? There is no reason to assume that Plato's contributions to our understanding of such difficult questions are out of date. Hence the essays comprising the present volume should be of interest not only to Plato scholars but, ultimately, to philosophers of science as well. (shrink)
Religion and Community: Adam Smith on the Virtues of Liberty CHARLES L. GRISWOLD, JR. The good temper and moderation of con- tending factions seems to be the most es- gential circumstance in the publick morals of a free people. Adam Smith' THE ARCHITECTS of what one might call "classical" or "Enlightenment" liberal- ism saw themselves as committed to refuting the claims to political sovereignty by organized religion. ~ The arguments against the legitimacy of a state- supported religion, and, in the (...) extreme case, of a religious monopoly, are so integral a part of the Enlightenment's effort to put politics on a stable and just foundation as to constitute one of the controlling themes of the period. Lib- eral politics requires toleration, or better, liberty of religious belief. And this in turn requires that religious institutions be privatized, as it were, and that just politics be secularized in that legitimate rule is to lie in the consent of the ruled rather than in the laws of God as interpreted by his ministers on earth. Differ- ' Wealth of Nations V.i.f.4o. My references to The Wealth of Nations are to the two-volume R. H. Campbell and A. S. Skinner edition . 2 The list of thinkers in the "classical liberal" tradition simply reads as the list of key Enlighten- ment figures: Bayle, Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Hume, Smith, Voltaire, and Kant, to name a few. Consider the role that religious freedom plays in Kant's. (shrink)