Sharon Street’s 2006 article “A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value” challenges the epistemological pretensions of the moral realist, of the nonnaturalist in particular. Given that “Evolutionary forces have played a tremendous role in shaping the content of human evaluative attitudes” – why should one suppose such attitudes and concomitant beliefs would track an independent moral reality? Especially since, on a nonnaturalist view, moral truth is causally inert. I abstract a logical skeleton of Street’s argument and, with its aid, (...) focus on problematic assumptions regarding the (a)causality of moral truth. It emerges that there are acquired causal powers that compensate for the intrinsic impotence of moral truth, as well as two distinct levels at which truth-tracking might occur. I argue that while evolution’s selective forces do not track moral truth, that does not imply individual organisms could not have evolved that capability. -/- . (shrink)
Gerald L. Bruns. the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his recreation of that work" (p. 80). The notion of a pure language, a language uncontaminated by mere speech, may be one of modernity's great unkillable ...
This article presents six ideas about the construction of emotion: (a) Emotions are more readily distinguished by the situations they signify than by patterns of bodily responses; (b) emotions emerge from, rather than cause, emotional thoughts, feelings, and expressions; (c) the impact of emotions is constrained by the nature of the situations they represent; (d) in the OCC account (the model proposed by Ortony, Clore, and Collins in 1988), appraisals are psychological aspects of situations that distinguish one emotion from another, (...) rather than triggers that elicit emotions; (e) analyses of the affective lexicon indicate that emotion words refer to internal mental states focused on affect; (f) the modularity of emotion, long sought in biology and behavior, exists as mental schemas for interpreting human experience in story, song, drama, and conversation. (shrink)
In this article, we examine how affect influences judgment and thought, but also how thought transforms affect. The general thesis is that the nature and impact of affective reactions depends largely on their objects. We view affect as a representation of value, and its consequences as dependent on its object or what it is about. Within a review of relevant literature and a discussion of the nature of emotion, we focus on the role of the object of affect in governing (...) both the nature of emotional reactions and the impact of affect and emotion on cognition and action. Although emotion is always about the here and now, the capacity for abstract thought means that the human here and now includes imagination as well as perception. Indeed, the hopes and fears that dominate human lives often involve things only imagined. (shrink)
This book concerns the relationship between language and poetry in Heidegger's later writings. Gerald L. Bruns illuminates these difficult and strange writings by analyzing his style and form and by reflecting on the philosopher's insights.
This paper emphasizes the crucial role of variation, at several different levels, for a detailed historical understanding of the development of the biomedical sciences. Going beyond valuable recent studies that focus on model organisms, experimental systems and instruments, we argue that all of these categories can be accommodated within our approach, which pays special attention to organismal and cultural variation. Our empirical examples are drawn in particular from recent historical studies of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century genetics and physiology. Based on (...) the quasi-paradoxical conclusion that biological and cultural variation both constrains and enables innovation in the biomedical sciences, we argue that more attention should be paid to variation as an analytical category in the historiography of the life sciences. (shrink)
Thomas Kuhn's thesis concerning the structure of scientific change was critically examined in relation to the historical problems of social science. The use and interpretation of Kuhn's ideas by psychologists was reviewed and found to center around the proliferation of theoretical views as paradigms, the viewing of theoretical differences as paradigm clashes, and efforts to affirm particular conceptions of psychology's past or future. Such use was seen as curbing discussion of fundamental issues, and to reflect a continuing neglect of the (...) foundational problems peculiar to social science. The relevance of Kuhn's work was seen to rest on a more critical view of his idea of “mature” science, better understanding of the type of social psychology upon which his thesis rests, and greater appreciation of his hermeneutic approach to social-historical analysis. (shrink)
In their cognitive theory of emotion, Schachter and Singer proposed that feelings are separable from what they are about. As a test, they induced feelings of arousal by injecting epinephrine and then molded them into different emotions. They illuminated how feelings in one moment lead into the next to form a stream of conscious experience. We examine the construction of emotion in a similar spirit. We use the sensory integration process to understand how the brain combines disparate sources of information (...) to construct both perceptual and emotional models of the world even as the world continues to change. We emphasize two processes: affect segmentation and affect integration. (shrink)
[Herbert F.] Tucker has shown us in a very practical way that the concept of meaning is the problem of problems, not only in hermeneutics but in literary theory and, indeed, literary study generally. It may well be that in literary study there can be no talk of meaning that is not ambiguous, that does not require us to speak in figures or by means of metaphorical improvisations. It would not necessarily follow that our talk of meaning is merely provisional (...) or without philosophical authority since we know now that considerable authority attaches to ordinary language, whence we obtain our use of the word "meaning" as well as the figurations that we use to talk our way around it. To be sure, the discipline of literary study is now rapidly filling with grave masters who take our figures to mean that meaning is literally unspeakable—only so many transferences and substitutions within a system of differences alarmingly vast . This is itself a terrific idea, or a terrific figure, although it is used mainly to expose the thoughtless way we talk about meaning as well as our offhand assumptions about the conditions that make understanding possible. Our problem in literary study is not that meaning is unspeakable—even if it were it would not be a problem—but that we rarely reflect on the subject of meaning in a disciplined way. In our time, meaning as a topic of study is the preserve of logicians. It is almost exclusively a theme of analytical philosophy, and even those not bound by this philosophy address themselves to the analytical tradition when they speak of meaning.1 It is time that we entered into this discourse on meaning; a paper as fine as Tucker's should serve as a summons.· 1. Among numerous cases, see John R. Searle, "Metaphor" and "Literal Meaning," Expression and Meaning , pp. 76-136, and "Intentionality and the Use of Language," in Meaning and Use, ed. Avishai Margalit , pp. 181-97.Gerald l. Bruns, professor of English at the University of Iowa, is the author of Modern Poetry and the Idea of Language and Inventions: Writing, Textuality, and Interpretation in Literary History. (shrink)