Kant has famously argued that monogamous marriage is the only relationship where sexual use can take place "without degrading humanity and breaking the moral laws." Kantian marriage, however, has been the target of fierce criticisms by contemporary things: it has been regarded as flawed and paradoncal, as being deeply at odds with feminism, and, at best, as plainly uninteresting. In this paper, I argue that Kantian marriage can indeed survive these criticisms. Finally, the paper advances the discussion beyond marriage. Drawing (...) on Kant 's conception of friendship, I suggest that he might have overlooked the possibility of sex being morally permissible in yet another context. (shrink)
Why does the world look to us as it does? As Nico Orlandi argues, it is simply because of how the world is. This answer emerges from understanding vision as situated in a structured environment, and it contrasts with the view that visual perception involves an inference.
Knowledge Societies offers both a critical examination of existing social theory, and a new synthesis of social theory with the actual study of knowledge relations in advanced economies. Some of the elements explored are scientization: the penetration not only of production but of most social action by scientific knowledge; the transformation of access to knowledge through higher education; the growth of experts (managers, accountants, advisors, and counselors) and of corresponding institutions based on the deployment of specialized knowledge; and a shift (...) in the nature of societal conflict from struggles about income and property to claims and conflicts about generalized human needs. Nico Stehr's argument amply demonstrates not only that all social theories now need to take into account the changing nature of social relations around knowledge, but also the parameters within which this analysis should take place. This book is essential reading for all those interested in social theory, sociology of knowledge and science, and the general issue of knowledge in the late 20th century. (shrink)
There is a certain excitement in vision science concerning the idea of applying the tools of bayesian decision theory to explain our perceptual capacities. Bayesian models are thought to be needed to explain how the inverse problem of perception is solved, and to rescue a certain constructivist and Kantian way of understanding the perceptual process. Anticlimactically, I argue both that bayesian outlooks do not constitute good solutions to the inverse problem, and that they are not constructivist in nature. In explaining (...) how visual systems derive a single percept from underdetermined stimulation, orthodox versions of bayesian accounts encounter a problem. The problem shows that such accounts need to be grounded in Natural Scene Statistics, an approach that takes seriously the Gibsonian insight that studying perception involves studying the statistical regularities of the environment in which we are situated. Additionally, I argue that bayesian frameworks postulate structures that hardly rescue a constructivist way of understanding perception. Except for percepts, the posits of bayesian theory are not representational in nature. bayesian perceptual inferences are not genuine inferences. They are biased processes that operate over nonrepresentational states. (shrink)
There is a growing conflict between modern and postmodern social theorists. The latter reject modern approaches as economistic, essentialist and often leading to authoritarian policies. Modernists criticize postmodern approaches for their rejection of holistic conceptual frameworks which facilitate an overall picture of how social wholes (organizations, communities, nation-states, etc.) are constituted, reproduced and transformed. They believe the rejection of holistic methodologies leads to social myopia - a refusal to explore critically the type of broad problems that classical sociology deals with. (...) This book attempts to bridge the divide between these two conflicting perspectives and proposes a novel holistic framework which is neither reductionist/economistic nor essentialist. Modern and Postmodern Social Theorizing will appeal to scholars and students of social theory and of social sciences in general. (shrink)
This article attempts to clarify the commitments of a predictive coding approach to perception. After summarizing predictive coding theory, the article addresses two questions. Is a predictive coding perceptual system also a Bayesian system? Is it a Kantian system? The article shows that the answer to these questions is negative.
MacKinnon has famously claimed that there is a connection between objectivity and objectification. This paper examines this connection by focusing on a particular norm of objectivity, Assumed Objectivity, which is linked to women's objectification. Haslanger argues that this norm should be rejected since, under conditions of gender inequality, (a) it harms the interests of women (it is pragmatically bad), and (b) it yields false beliefs (it is epistemically bad). Langton attempts to go beyond Haslanger's critique, suggesting that this norm is (...) also epistemically bad because it yields true but unjustified beliefs (beliefs that have a wrong direction of fit). I argue that while the norm of Assumed Objectivity is epistemically problematic in yielding false beliefs, it is wrongly accused of yielding true but unjustified beliefs. (shrink)
Objectification is a notion central to contemporary feminist theory. It has famously been associated with the work of anti-pornography feminists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, and more recently with the work of Martha Nussbaum. However, objectification is a notion that has not yet been adequately defined. It has been used rather vaguely to refer to a broad range of cases involving, in some way or another, the treatment of a person as an object. My purpose in this paper is to (...) offer a plausible understanding of objectification. I do that by focusing on the work of four prominent thinkers: Immanuel Kant, and contemporary feminists Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin and Martha Nussbaum. Through drawing on these thinkers' conceptions of objectification, I am finally led to a more complete and coherent understanding of this notion. (shrink)
Several philosophical issues in connection with computer simulations rely on the assumption that results of simulations are trustworthy. Examples of these include the debate on the experimental role of computer simulations :483–496, 2009; Morrison in Philos Stud 143:33–57, 2009), the nature of computer data Computer simulations and the changing face of scientific experimentation, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Barcelona, 2013; Humphreys, in: Durán, Arnold Computer simulations and the changing face of scientific experimentation, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Barcelona, 2013), and the explanatory power of (...) computer simulations :277–292, 2008; Durán in Int Stud Philos Sci 31:27–45, 2017). The aim of this article is to show that these authors are right in assuming that results of computer simulations are to be trusted when computer simulations are reliable processes. After a short reconstruction of the problem of epistemic opacity, the article elaborates extensively on computational reliabilism, a specified form of process reliabilism with computer simulations located at the center. The article ends with a discussion of four sources for computational reliabilism, namely, verification and validation, robustness analysis for computer simulations, a history of successful implementations, and the role of expert knowledge in simulations. (shrink)
This article sets out to replace the concept of basic emotions with the notion of “ur-emotions,” the functionally central underlying processes of action readiness, which are not emotions at all. We propose that what is basic and universal in emotions are not multicomponential syndromes, but states of action readiness, themselves variants of motive states to relate or not relate with the world and with oneself. Unlike emotions, ur-emotions can be held to be universal and biologically based.
Emotion experience reflects some of the outcomes of the mostly nonconscious processes that compose emotions. In my view, the major processes are appraisal, affect, action readiness, and autonomic arousal. The phenomenology of emotion experience varies according to mode of consciousness (nonreflective or reflective consciousness), and to direction and mode of attention. As a result, emotion experience may be either ineffable or articulate with respect to any or all of the underlying processes. In addition, emotion experience reflects the degree to which (...) the emotion processes control perception, thought, action and bodily arousal. (shrink)
As its title suggests, this anthology is a collection of papers presented at a conference on feelings and emotions held in Amsterdam in 2001. One of the symposiumâ€™s main goals was to draw some of the most prominent researchers in emotion research together and provide a multi-disciplinary â€˜snap shotâ€™ of the state of the art at the turn of the century. In that respect it is truly a cognitive science success story. There are articles from a wide range of fields, (...) encompassing, e.g., philosophy, neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Another.. (shrink)
A review of the literature was conducted to better understand the (potential) role of mental health professionals in physician-assisted suicide. Numerous studies indicate that depression is one of the most commonly encountered psychiatric illnesses in primary care settings. Yet, depression consistently goes undetected and undiagnosed by nonpsychiatrically trained primary care physicians. Noting the well-studied link between depression and suicide, it is necessary to question giving sole responsibility of assisting patients in making end-of-life treatment decisions to these physicians. Unfortunately, the use (...) of mental health consultation by these physicians is not a common occurrence. Greater involvement of mental health professionals in this emerging and debated area is advocated. Beyond describing mental health professionals' role in the assessment of patient competency or decision making capacity, other areas of potential involvement are described. A discussion of ethical principles relevant to this area follows, along with comments on the training necessary to adequately serve patient needs. (shrink)
In this issue we include contributions from the individuals presiding at the panel All in a Jurnal's Work: A BABEL Wayzgoose, convened at the second Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group. Sadly, the contributions of Daniel Remein, chief rogue at the Organism for Poetic Research as well as editor at Whiskey & Fox , were not able to appear in this version of the proceedings. From the program : 2ND BIENNUAL MEETING OF THE BABEL WORKING GROUP CONFERENCE “CRUISING IN (...) THE RUINS: THE QUESTION OF DISCIPLINARITY IN THE POST/MEDIEVAL UNIVERSITY” SEPTEMBER 21ST, 2012: SESSION 13 MCLEOD C.322, CURRY STUDENT CENTER NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY, BOSTON, MA. Traditionally, a wayzgoose was a celebration at the end of a printer’s year, a night off in the late fall before the work began of printing by candlelight. According to the OED, the Master Printer would make for the journeymen “a good Feast, and not only entertains them at his own House, but besides, gives them Money to spend at the Ale-house or Tavern at Night.” Following in this line, continent. proposes in its publication(s) a night out and a good Feast, away from the noxious fumes of the Academy and into a night of revelry which begins, but does not end, at the alehouse or Tavern. continent. proposes that the thinking of the Academy be freed to be thought elsewhere, in the alleys and doorways of the village and cities, encountered not in the strictly defined spaces of the classroom and blackboard (now white) but anticipated and found where thinking occurs. Historically, academic journals have served a different purpose than the Academy itself. Journals (from the Anglo-Fr. jurnal , "a day," from O.Fr. jornel , "day, time; day's work," hence the journalist as writer of the news of the day ) have served as privileged sites for the articulation and concretization of specific modes of knowledge and control (insemination of those ideas has been formalized in the classroom, in seminar). In contrast, the academic journal is post-partum and has been an old-boys club, an insider trading network in which truths are (re)circulated against themselves, forming a Maginot Line against whatever is new, or the distinctly challenging. All in a Jurnal’s Work will discuss (in part) the ramifications of cheap start-up publications that are challenging the traditional ensconced-in-ivory academic journals and their supporting infrastructures. The panel will be seeking a questioning (as a challenging) towards the discipline of knowledge production/fabrication (of truth[s]) and the event of the Academy (and its publications) as it has evolved and continues to (d)evolve. Issues to be discussed will revolve around the power of academic publishing and its origins, hierarchical versus horizontal academic modules (is there a place for the General Assembly in academia?) and the evolving idea of the Multiversity as a site(s) of a (BABELing) multivocality in the wake of the University of Disaster. A CONTINUOUS ACT Nico Jenkins In Pierre Hadot’s extraordinary book, Philosophy as a Way of Life , the practices of philosophy—that is the exercise of what we can term pre-institionalized love of wisdom, what Philo of Alexandria described as a training towards wisdom—are described as, following the Stoics, “a continuous act, permanent and identical with life itself, which had to be renewed at each instant.” This renewal of thinking, this coming to be of being itself —meeting itself on its own ground, concerns the way philosophy is practiced, and more often, taught, or rather not taught. Hadot continues his thinking with a description of what happens to the structure of thought in the medieval ages as it becomes adopted—co-opted— by the university, and by extension, by the institution of the church. Philosophy becomes no longer a way of living, no longer a praxis as such but becomes a condition that is locked in a theoretical construct, one which was literally removed from life (and in life we read then love, wisdom, being etc, also the home, the market, the field, the street) and secured behind the high walls of the monastery (which were shortly replaced by the high walls of the Academy) where thinking unfortunately rests for the most part today. Hadot writes further that this dangerous movement of removal reduces thinking to a theoretical practice akin to the mythical Ouroborous; “education was thus no longer directed toward people who were to be educated with a view to becoming fully developed human beings, but to specialists, in order that they might learn how to train other specialists.” Thought then is trapped behind the walls of the academy, and with the exception of such thinkers as Spinoza, Descartes, and Liebnitz as well as others who think from an outside in, thought remains, in the form of Kant, Fichte, Hegel, a practice reduced or removed from life and restricted to what Schopenhauer will call “mere fencing in front of the mirror.” This is of course the tendency today and philosophy remains, for the most part, a discourse produced and thought inside the academy and disseminated, in seminated through university presses and of course the academic journal. It seems necessary to me that we have to have a place, a return, to a thinking which is closer to the Stoics, closer to the pre-Socratics, to a thinking which is a practice of becoming, a training to think, to live, to die. this is not south romantic than imperative . This thinking is one of a deep ir responsibility because it is not known, it is not figured out. It requires a risk and what Heidegger calls a leap (for there is no bridge to it). I call it irresponsible because for too long sanctioned thought has had as its premise the idea that thinking has a goal, a direction, a telos ; that it is not an activity but a process which gives a product; that the responsibility of thinking in turn demand an answer. In my mind, only freed from that goal can thinking, in contrast, bask in its own thinking, bask in a state in which the unknown can remain unknown, that mystery can rest as mystery. This is not to say that the world needs no answers, or to promote a Whitmanesque “leaning and loafing” as the only valid practice. It is only to say that for too long, thinking has been validated by the academy, by the answerable, by the already decided. To me, this requires—as an answer— the ir responsibility of thought, what Nancy calls, “a world for which all is not already done (played out, finished, enshrined in a destiny), nor entirely still to do (in the future for always future tomorrows).” This is a thinking not sanctified by the academy, made sacred by the church or the palace but rather it takes place on the périphérie , beyond the ring road, in alleyways behind the marketplace, in cafes stained with the syphilitic patina of irresponsible talk, of loose talk, the kind of talk made loose not only by the tankard and the goblet by the practice and training of attuned thinking. continent. was formed as a collective of thinkers coming out of the European Graduate School (also known as the University of Disaster) three years ago, in an effort to combat, or challenge, the dominant paradigm which isolates thinking from the street, from life, from where perhaps wisdom tends to emerge. We feel that not only is the university herself no longer the privileged site of where true thinking takes place—and where only official thought can take place—but that the very artificiality of the academy denies thinking—at times—authentic, thought. Our goal at continent. is to create a media agnostic publication which is rigorous in its intellectual underpinnings but which will remain permanently beyond and out of reach of the academy. Though many of us butter our bread with academic paychecks (maid!) we attempt to keep continent. as a refuge—and a refugee—from the University in ruins, from the University as a site of preformed and institutionalized pre-set dialogues. In concert with other publications-both cyber and print—as well as various blogs we are attempting to re-dialogize the dialogue of thinking. We are attempting both to speak to— as well as with and against —the university as a site of accreted knowledge. We have not been utterly successful and continue to attempt to define what that role of being perpetually beyond is (while still trying to maintain rigorous intellectual standards) but it is just that, a goal, which is perpetually opening, perpetually unanswered, perhaps even by design, perpetually unanswerable. (shrink)
Sexual objectification is a common theme in contemporary feminist theory. It has been associated with the work of the anti-pornography feminists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, and, more recently, with the work of Martha Nussbaum. Interestingly, these feminists' views on objectification have their foundations in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Fully comprehending contemporary discussions of sexuality and objectification, therefore, requires a close and careful analysis of Kant's own theory of objectification. In this paper, I provide such an analysis. I explain (...) what is involved, for Kant, in the process of objectification, what it really means for a person to be an object (what Kant calls an `object of appetite'), and finally deal with his reasons for thinking that marriage can provide the solution to the problem of sexual objectification. I then proceed to some contemporary feminist discussions on sexual objectification, showing how influential Kant's ideas have been for contemporary feminist thinkers MacKinnon, Dworkin, and Nussbaum. My analysis of these feminists' work focuses on the striking similarities, as well as the important differences, that exist between their views and Kant's views on what objectification is, how it is caused, and how it can be eliminated. (shrink)
Constitutional pluralism has become a principal model for understanding the legal and political structure of the European Union. Yet its variants are highly diverse, ranging from moderate “institutional” forms, closer to constitutionalist thinking, to “radical” ones which renounce a common framework to connect the different layers of law at play. Neil MacCormick, whose work was key for the rise of constitutional pluralism, shifted his approach from radical to institutional pluralism over time. This paper reconstructs the reasons for this shift—mainly concerns (...) about political stability that also underlie many others' skepticism vis-à-vis radical pluralist ideas. It then seeks to show why such concerns are likely overdrawn. In the fluid, contested space of postnational politics, a common, overarching frame is problematic as it might inflame, rather than tame, tensions. Leaving fundamental issues open along radical pluralist lines may help to work around points of highly charged contestation and provide opportunities for resistance from less powerful actors. (shrink)
At the heart of Kantian theory lies the prohibition against treating humanity merely as a means. Two of the most influential interpretations of what this means are Wood's and O'Neill's. Drawing on these thinkers' ideas, Kerstein formulates two accounts of what is involved in the idea of treating a person merely as a means: the and accounts. Kerstein's attempt is to show that they are problematic. He introduces his to alleviate the problems they face. I argue that the end-sharing and (...) possible consent accounts are not vulnerable to Kerstein's criticism. However, they both face a shortcoming: they fail to support the Kantian conclusion that the prostitute and the servile person are treated merely as means. Through reconstructing these accounts, I surmount this difficulty. Moreover, my proposal helps Kerstein's own account overcome a problem he admits it has, without the need to resort to consequentialism. (shrink)
By referring to mundane practices as well as to more systematic or theoretical discourses, this article shows the utility of focusing on the negatory, apophatic aspects of reflexivity, i.e. on attempts at removing obstacles which prevent the spontaneous emergence of open-ended self—self and self—other relationships.
The popular media has repeatedly pointed to pride as one of the key factors motivating leaders to behave unethically. However, given the devastating consequences that leader unethical behavior may have, a more scientific account of the role of pride is warranted. The present study differentiates between authentic and hubristic pride and assesses its impact on leader ethical behavior, while taking into consideration the extent to which leaders find it important to their self-concept to be a moral person. In two experiments (...) we found that with higher levels of moral identity, authentically proud leaders are more likely to engage in ethical behavior than hubristically proud leaders, and that this effect is mediated by leaders’ motivation to act selflessly. A field survey among organizational leaders corroborated that moral identity may bring the positive effect of authentic pride and the negative effect of hubristic pride on leader ethical behavior to the forefront. (shrink)
A naturalistic account of the strengths and limitations of cladistic practice is offered. The success of cladistics is claimed to be largely rooted in the parsimony-implementing congruence test. Cladists may use the congruence test to iteratively refine assessments of homology, and thereby increase the odds of reliable phylogenetic inference under parsimony. This explanation challenges alternative views which tend to ignore the effects of parsimony on the process of character individuation in systematics. In a related theme, the concept of homeostatic property (...) cluster natural kinds is used to explain why cladistics is well suited to provide a traditional, verbal reference system for the evolutionary properties of species and clades. The advantages of more explicitly probabilistic approaches to phylogenetic inference appear to manifest themselves in situations where evolutionary homeostasis has for the most part broken down, and predictive classifications are no longer possible. (shrink)
This essay discusses the meaning of prayer, worship, and liturgy for the transformation and renewal of public life. As a crucial practice of the church, prayer creates, enhances, and nurtures a vision of a new society of holiness and justice. Prayer fosters courageous criticism of individuals and institutions where this vision is betrayed. Prayer thirdly forms and transforms humans into people of virtue and character who seek the good society through concrete obedience, quests for solidarity and justice, as well as (...) practices of suffering and active and hopeful waiting upon God. I investigate the role that prayer played in the resistance against the apartheid regime, and spell out some implications of this threefold task of prayer for contemporary South Africa. (shrink)
continent. 1.1 (2011): 60-67. At the beginning of Martin Heidegger’s lecture “Time and Being,” presented to the University of Freiburg in 1962, he cautions against, it would seem, the requirement that philosophy make sense, or be necessarily responsible (Stambaugh, 1972). At that time Heidegger's project focused on thinking as thinking and in order to elucidate his ideas he drew comparisons between his project and two paintings by Paul Klee as well with a poem by Georg Trakl. In front of Klee's (...) Saints from the Window and Death of Fire —though we wouldn’t absolutely understand what we were seeing—he writes, “we should want to stand…a long while.” In a similar manner, of Trakl’s poem “Septet of Death”—although it is likely we are unsure in what we hear—Heidegger states that, “we should want to hear…[it] often.” Heidegger further states that in appreciating these, “we “should abandon any claim that [they] be immediately intelligible” (1). So also we must we approach, Heidegger continues, the realm of theoretical physics, in which the difficult work of Werner Heisenberg, be listened to “without protest” and without “any claim that he be immediately understood.” These works, like his own project, merit the time they take to be originally (mis)understood. But this is not necessarily true for philosophy, Heidegger advises, because, “That thinking is supposed to offer ‘worldly wisdom’ and perhaps even a ‘way to a blessed life’” (1). Philosophy is in the unique position of being both abstract (what do we talk about when we talk?) and at the same moment, useful. There are demands that it make sense, that it be, grounded, immediate, and most importantly, rational. Heidegger draws these comparisons between the works of Klee and Trakl and Heisenberg not to claim that philosophy is totally irresponsible. He does not claim that the poet, the painter, nor the physicist have acted irresponsibly. Rather, he would say, they are rising to the highest levels of intelligibility, though it is perhaps an intelligibility that is commonly unavailable to us. In Trakl’s case, as we shall see, mastery is the end result of difficult words. Instead, Heidegger seems be making pleas: for a period of uninterrupted unintelligibility (pure unintelligibility); and that there is a time (that time is now) when, “thinking is…placed in a position which demands of it reflections that are far removed from any useful, practical wisdom” (1-2). Heidegger argues that philosophy requires a period of time in which, instead of focusing on the practical—or even on the worldly—the discipline draw its “determination” instead from the place of painting and poetry and physics. In doing so, “we should have to abandon any claims to immediate intelligibility” (2). But Heidegger doesn’t offer this as a way out. We still have to turn up, we “still have to listen, because we must think what is inevitable, but preliminary” (2). The point for Heidegger, is not to listen to a series of propositions, but instead to “follow the movement of showing” (2). I. … Maybe we're here only to say: house, bridge, well, gate, jug, olive tree, window— at most: pillar, tower … but to say them, remember, oh, to say them in a way that the things themselves never dreamed of existing so intensely.… Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Ninth Elegy” There is little more fundamental, preliminary, in the world than language. We use language, in the form of speech, constantly, whether we are saying anything or not. “Man speaks,” Heidegger writes, and goes on to describe in his essay “Language” (2001) the constant speaking that we do. “We are always speaking, even when we do not utter a single word aloud, but merely listen or read, and even when we are not particularly speaking or listening but are attending to some work or taking a rest” (187). Speaking is expression, an utterance of something internal. It is a recognition of a world. It is a way of communicating thought and it is an activity that we all do, inevitably. Speaking separates the human from the animal world, and despite advances in primatology that seek to give ‘voice’ to primates and other non-human animals, it can safely be said that our form of communication—what we call speech and know as language—is the most advanced, the most complicated. We use it to present and represent the world around us; through actual utterances (vocalization) or through the written word or through ‘unvoiced thoughts’ and dreams. We use language, but more specifically speech—naming—to transmit moods, thoughts, desires, aversions, and feelings. These expressions, mere utterances, nearly always find a source in words, whether spoken or not. Heidegger writes that this common view of language means “that only speech enables man to be the living being he is as man. It is as the one who speaks that man is—man” (187). Speaking then—utterance—surrounds us constantly, whether in the form of careful thought—in the form of an academic paper, say—or in the half mutterings and forgotten thoughts of a nearly remembered dream. Like scaffolding, the apparatus of speech sustains and explains the world, making, in a sense, the world rational, making it apparent. When we speak, we describe, and in doing so, name the world. We use words, through this process of naming, to interpret and sustain the world we see, and the world we imagine. Like Rilke’s naming of jug, and bridge, and window, and stream, we describe—and inscribe upon—the world through an activity of naming. Are we here, perhaps, to name? Is it possible not to name? Is it possible to regard and to view and to look around without naming what we see? Is it possible to feel—to experience—world without giving utterance to that feeling, that process? Sadness, grief, joy, ecstasy, hunger, thirst. Desk, light, room, pen, book, world. White, black, tomorrow, today. Each of these words is a name given to a thing I see in front of me, or a concept that I imagine (in the case of tomorrow or world). What arises in my mind has already existed. If I imagine it, it is named. The word for ‘tomorrow’ and ‘desk’ and ‘light’ precedes me, and precedes my concept of it. The idea of it is already pre-informed, and I must, in a certain sense, bend my ideas to it. When I imagine a table, I imagine my own table (or I imagine an idea of table) but that imagining must follow certain general rules; while, perhaps, it might not always require four legs and a horizontal surface, it must, at least not be, say, a pool of water, or a pile of excrement. It must have some tableness to it to be a table. It must, with Heidegger, table. Otherwise, speech is reduced to gibberish. For Heidegger however, the discussion of language points to something deeper than its “scientific and analytic” study as a communicative device. Indeed, Heidegger seeks to understand language not in reference to man or woman, not as an utterance of humanity, but in reference to itself. In doing so he abandons the conversation—that is, he casts away the traditional arguments surrounding philosophy of language; that it is a means of expression; that it is a human activity; and that it is somehow a representation of something that is—in order to seek to understand language as language, on its own terms. Heidegger is not a philosopher of language, but a philosopher of world, of being. Despite these “correct ideas” holding sway “over the whole field of the varied scientific perspectives on language…they ignore completely the oldest natural cast of language” (191). What is this “oldest natural cast of language? It is the act of language itself. Language is language and language speaks. “Most often,” Heidegger writes, “and too often, we encounter what is spoken only as the residue of a speaking long past” (195). Speech, as we normally encounter it, is like Echo herself calling out to Narcissus, doomed to repeat what has already been said, a mere remnant of what was once language, a trace left behind in the gathering silence of becoming. In both the essay “Language” and in his three lecture course “The Nature of Language” (1982), Heidegger attempts to unpack the seeming tautology of language as language. In each, he focuses on poetry as a way out, or into, a true discussion of the oldest natural cast of language. Poetry is pure speech. In poetry, language is brought to language and language speaks ( Die Sprach spricht ). In the act of poetry, the act of pure speech, the poet names (on the surface not different from how I name this table, this computer) but in the poet naming, the naming does not “hand out titles,” “apply terms,” but rather the naming is a call, a calling forth of entities that bring them into their own, allow them to take their place purely, without compromise. This calling, Heidegger (2001) states, “here calls into a nearness. But even so the call does not wrest what it calls away from the remoteness, in which it is kept by the calling there. The calling calls into itself and therefor always here and there—here into presence, there into absence” (196). II. Window with falling snow is arrayed, Long tolls the vesper bell, The house is provided well, The table is for many laid. Wandering ones, more than a few, Come to the door on darksome courses. Golden blooms the tree of graces Drawing up the earth’s cool dew. Wanderer quietly steps within; Pain has turned the threshold to stone. There lie, in limpid brightness shown, Upon the table bread and wine. Georg Trakl “A Winter Evening” Heidegger is often given short shrift as an abysmally difficult writer, as one that makes no sense and is needlessly difficult. In doing this though, we forget sometimes his eloquence, his simple beauty in writing. Of the above opening stanza, “Window with falling snow is arrayed/ Long tolls the vesper bell.” he writes (2001), This speaking names the snow that soundlessly strikes the window late in the waning day, while the vesper bell rings. In such a snowfall, everything lasts longer. Therefore the vesper bell, which daily rings for a strictly fixed time, tolls long. The speaking names the winter evening time (197). The speaking names the winter evening time. It is almost impossible to comment on that one line by Heidegger. It is as though it must exist on its own completely, without elucidation—as though in front of it we must stand as we do in front of a painting by Klee, that is, we must abandon any claim . Silent and devoted. The speaking of the poem here is not clearly different from common speech ( rede ) yet there is, via Heidegger, an invitation to experience that auracular quality of light and stillness that a gentle, dusk tinged snowfall gives; words evoking a quality so clear, so poignant that, in a sense, Heidegger’s work, at this moment, has been done. But what does this naming accomplish? What does the call call? Remember, it is not the poet that calls, but the naming which calls. The poet has only brought the words forward; it is now the words— snow, vesper bell, window— that take new life in the pure language of the poem. Entities are called forth into presence, like the speaking that names the winter evening time. Not to be present amongst us now, however; naming ‘table’ in the poem does not place it in front of us in this room. Rather, the naming places entities into a gathering which is also a sheltering. The naming brings them to be. In an act of appropriation, things come to be purely as their own, unimpeded by a predetermined expectation. They are called to themselves into an arrival. In Being and Time (1962), Heidegger famously describes the movement between present-at-hand and ready-to-hand in his analysis of the hammer, and of equipment in general. This analysis is already known, if not always clear, to most readers of Heidegger. Briefly, a hammer is ordinarily zuhanden or ready-to-hand; it is part of the background of the world, equipment used and never thought about, like this desk, this sheet of paper, this room. Our interaction with it is temporary and it is historically different for each entity and each relation. We need a hammer, we use a hammer. If all goes according to plan, the hammer remains ready-to-hand; it remains, in a sense, undisclosed and certainly unobtrusive. Our world is undisturbed by the hammer. Only when the hammer or the car or the computer is broken (or sometimes unused or unrecognized or missing) does it intrude into our world, become conspicuous as an object present-at-hand, or vorhanden . In this case, we reach for the hammer, it is broken and we suddenly notice it’s being, broken though it is. The thing which was always ready to hand—handy—is suddenly abstract, something to be examined, if only in its absence or disfunction. This can be exhibited for all entities, and it is important to note that in this analysis the zuhanden / vorhanden split is not restricted to a specific form of constructed material; zuhanden does not refer to the car, and vorhanden the sunset. No entity is ever exclusively ready-to-hand or present-at-hand; they are instead, interpenetrated with each others mode of being, one informing the other in a way that both brings things forth into the world—discloses is the word Heidegger chooses—and at the same time conceals them. As one mode is coming to be so another mode is withdrawing. This flux and movement between modes is precisely what brings the world forward, and what makes it manifest. It exists beyond where we tread and before man took dubious control of the world. We go to find a book or turn on the computer and it is missing or broken and we become aware of the object, as though for the first time. We walk to the water to glimpse the sunset and miss it, or it is less than stellar; in the sunset’s grayness, we become aware of it’s being sunset. The thing is disclosed in its withdrawal. Echoing Heraclitus, we can say that as something is coming to be, it is already becoming something other. Of similar importance to the fact that things are never all of one, or all of the other, they are also never alone. The hammer is never a single object, but is in relation always to the whole. Heidegger (1962) states, Equipment—in accordance with its equipmentality—always is in terms of its belonging to other equipment: ink-stand, pen, ink, paper, blotting pad, table, lamp, furniture, windows, doors, room. These ‘Things’ never show themselves proximally as they are for themselves…What we encounter as closest to us…is the room; and we encounter it not as something ‘between four walls’ in a geometrical, spatial sense, but as equipment for residing…it is in this that any ‘individual’ item of equipment shows itself. Before its does so, a totality of equipment has already been discovered (97). Equipment resides—dwells—in its relations, in its proximal being to other beings. Within the structure of totality, a series of relations is always occurring. The hammer is on the workbench in the carpenter’s hand in the workshop in the village under the sky and under the sun. It doesn’t stop there. Equipment surrounds us and the focus is not on what it does, or what one does with it—the carpenter with the hammer, the writer with laptop—but with the fact that it is. Equipment occurs in relation and is always occurring around us overhead, underfoot, by the stream and in the city. There is a constant exchange of relations happening, and as this occurs, so the world occurs, so the world both discloses and withdraws, into and out of itself. In a very real sense, language is also equipment. It is the thing that we use most often without thought, it is ready-to-hand (except when it’s not.) As we re- cognize the world around us, as we offer names for things and make lists, we are using language much like we might use a hammer, that is, bluntly. Most of the time it is invisible and we draw on it without wondering how we are going to say something. When language does intrude, it does so in an awkward moment, that moment when we can’t remember the right word, when we forget a phrase. At that second, it “speaks itself as language,” it reveals itself as malfunctioning equipment, and we “undergo” an experience with language, in Heidegger’s famous formulation. Language is not a tool anymore that we use to bludgeon an object, but something instead that we submit to, that we experience. In “The Nature of Language,” Heidegger (1982) writes, But when does language speak to us as language? Curiously enough, when we cannot find the right word for something that concerns us, carries us away, oppresses or encourages us. Then we leave unspoken what we have in mind and, without rightly giving it a thought, undergo moments in which language itself has distantly and fleetingly touched us with its essential being (59). The poet’s words become themselves, become appropriate, only when they no longer function in the prosaic world; they instead intrude as they come to be. Language itself brings itself to language. Names, like the entities they indicate, are always becoming something else. As noted above, language, through the poet, has brought forth entities from words previously “known.” I thought that I knew snow, but through Trakl’s re- presentation of the word, language calls forth a new image of snow, indeed calls forth snow itself. The vesper bell tolls longer, the table is for many laid. In bringing forth things , language has brought the world to presence. In everyday naming, word occludes world, preventing, in its everydayness, its coming forth, its disclosing. But what is this world that word has been brought forth into? In the same way that language speaks, world worlds. World, left alone, un-interfered with, comes into itself. It worlds. Again, this sounds like a tautology, but it is essential to Heidegger’s thought (and in my mind is more of a “god killer” than Nietzsche.) One of the most overlooked (and under-appreciated) aspects of Heidegger is his later examination and enthusiasm for the “fourfold,” or the system through which things come to be, through which things thing in a world worlding. The fourfold is the interaction of earth and sky, mortals and gods. Things come to be in the interstices and gathering of the fourfold. The fourfold provides both a place of being, and a sheltering, a place to dwell. Heidegger writes that “the things that were named, thus called, gather to themselves sky and earth, mortals and divinities. The four are united primally in being toward one another, a fourfold.” The poet has called, through the act of pure naming, things to come forth. In the purity of the fourfold—that is, when that is all that there is, when there are no other distractions, definitions, things—entities themselves can come to be. It is important to note that Heidegger is not saying that there are four formal things in the world, autonomous entities unto themselves. He is not evoking a pre-Socratic formula as to what makes up the world; instead, the four mirror each other constantly. (Heidegger calls this the ‘mirror-play.’) They interpenetrate in the same way that the modes of being of things interpenetrate themselves. There is no discrete exclusivity in being or the fourfold. What makes up things is not a precise recipe of the four main components; what makes up things is the action of the fourfold coming together, the movement of the fourfold which is a becoming. Heidegger (2001) writes that “this gathering, assembling, letting stay is the thinging of things.” And he later adds that “thinging, things are things. Thinging, they gesture—gestate—world” (197). Language brings the world to be. It works not again as a recipe added to things, but instead it is a bridge, or more precisely, a relation. Language relates world to thing, brings world to thing. In a sense, it does not say anything; rather it allows, or calls in its movement. Heidegger (2001) writes that, The intimacy of world and thing is not a fusion. Intimacy obtains only where the intimate—world and thing—divides itself cleanly and remains separated. In the midst of the two, in the between of world and thing, in their inter, division prevails: a dif-ference (199). It is in this inter that language prevails. Language is difference, it is the differential aspect between world and thing that brings world to thing. In the final stanza of Trakl’s poem “The Winter Evening,” Trakl evokes this difference in the second line when he writes, “Pain has turned the threshold to stone.” Christopher Fynsk, in his essay “Noise at the Threshold,” draws attention to this point when he writes “it is the figure of the threshold that is language itself, inasmuch as language is defined as the articulation of difference by which difference comes about” (25). Language, as used in the pure language of the poem, draws together world and thing, bridging relation between entity and world. The calling of language calls world to thing, world to being. Heidegger (2001) describes this difference as unique; “of itself, it holds apart the middle in and through which world and things are at one with each other” (200). III. Neither reading nor writing, nor speaking—and yet it is by those paths that we escape what has been said already, and knowledge, and reciprocity, and enter the unknown space, the space of distress where what is given is perhaps not received by anyone (99). Maurice Blanchot The Writing of Disaster So far, we have allowed Heidegger to put forward what language does, how it functions as a relation and how it operates as a threshold, as a bridge. What interests me is what happens beyond language, beyond the relation. What happens to the thing without the naming, without the poet, or even without the everyday chatter—Fynsk calls this ‘noise’—intruding on being? If language allows things to become by bringing thing to world, what happens when we remove this bringing, this threshold turned to pain? In “The Nature of Language,” Heidegger examines the work of the poet Stefan George, specifically “The Word”: Wonder or dream from distant land I carried to my county’s strand And waited till the twilight norn Had found the name within her bourn— Then I could grasp it close and strong It blooms and shines now the front along… Once I returned from happy sail, I had a prize so rich and frail, She sought for long and tidings told: “No like of these depths unfold.” And straight it vanished from my hand, The treasure never graced my land… So I renounced and sadly see: Where word breaks off no thing may be. That final line, “Where word breaks off no thing may be” is evoked on nearly every page of Heidegger’s essay. It is the line to which he returns over and over and bears repeating. Where word breaks off no thing may be. Where naming ends, no thing. We can interpret this in two ways (at least.) Where word—naming—breaks off, then there is nothing . Or, as I choose to read it, where word breaks off no thing may be. In this I see a hint forward, a marker left behind by Heidegger. What could this look like? What does no thing look like? Like a zen koan ( there is no mirror ) it is as thrilling and horrifying as contemplating what preceded the Big Bang. Because language as naming wasn’t always here; we weren’t always here. One or maybe two aspects of the fourfold (depending on your view of gods) were not always here, and there is no guarantee that we will always be around. What then? Heidegger (1982) describes the landscape that the poet finds, “It names the realm into which the renunciation must enter: it names the call to enter into that relation between thing and word which has now been experienced” (65). The poet, in renouncing, allows for the “may be” of “where word breaks off no thing may be.” This “may be” becomes “a kind of imperative, a command which the poet follows, to keep it from then on.” No thing is lacking. Where word breaks off, there may be, a totality, a completion. If we place the emphasis on may be , we make it affirmative, make it positive. One allows it. No thing is where the word, that is the name, is lacking. If we remove then (if we can remove) the word, the name, than that is where no thing is, that is where no thing may blossom, enrich, belong, become. What is no thing? Heidegger writes that “thing is anything that in any way is.” And just after this he writes that the “world alone gives being to the thing.” But what happens if there is no word? Word, in this formulation can be seen as an enframing, a challenging of language. By naming, by drawing a perimeter around an object, we hold it, by its definition (that is a brick) to an ordered future. If we borrow from Heidegger’s essay “The Question Concerning Technology” (1993) the idea of this standing-reserve of an ordered future, we see that “everywhere everything is ordered to stand by, to be immediately on hand, indeed to stand there just so that it may be on call for a further ordering” (322). What happens if there is no naming of the thing? Silence perhaps. Stillness. We can name—and do name—that which we know. We equate knowledge with knowing the name of something. A brick is a brick, a hammer is a hammer, the universe is the universe. By naming a thing, we create, and draw its parameters, the parameters of the thing, not as thing thinging in the fourfold, but as blunt object apparent. In the four dimensions relatively available to us, we observe (and name) that the brick takes up possibly six by four by two inches and is, in the sense that it currently occupies this time slot. It fulfills its destiny, its being, its brickness, it bricks . But what happens when we remove the name for this brick. We no longer know what to call this no-thing (if indeed we can even arrive at the point of uncalled calling.) In fact the it (this brick) is no longer a thing in the sense that by not naming—by removing the name—it still occupies the same dimension but is indiscernible from the world. It simply is , un-reliant, un- needed by me. By removing the subject (me) from it (the brick) do I not then also remove the object—or at least the duality objectifying it? Why is this important? Why does this matter? I have not really removed anything. I have not changed any thing , per se . The brick still occupies the same space in geographic and temporal dimensions. I have literally not even touched the brick sitting on my desk. But what I have done is removed the name, removed the word (the bridge, according to Heidegger) and in this (again, if this is even possible) there is something vertiginously liberating, not only for me (and my way of thinking) but also for the brick itself. Like the poet who calls the thing forward, by refusing to name, by avoiding any thing that demands me to name it, I release the thing into the fourfold. I am no longer challenging the thing to be there for me ; I do not en frame it through language. Rather I, in an act of extreme responsibility, am refusing the challenge. By refusing the name (refusing to name) one allows, (or no one allows no thing) the brick to be all things , to manifest its manifold being, to incorporate all things into its thinging . It becomes, quite literally, every thing . Because, in its infinite manifestness, it incorporates everything; the mud that gave it its current being, the water that formed the mud, the sun, the stars, the universe and it also allows it to become mud again, to become landfill, to become again, water and sun and stars and universe in an endless, infinite cycle of coming to be some thing (else). Perhaps this is what Heidegger is suggesting when he talks about the stillness at the end of his essay, “Language” (2001): The dif-ference stills particularly in two ways: it stills the things in thinging and the world in worlding. Thus stilled, thing and world never escape from the dif-ference. Rather, they rescue it in the stilling, where the dif-ference is itself the stillness (206). It is in this stillness that I can imagine a gellasenheit (here I mean both “releasement in the Heideggarean sense, as well as Meister Eckhart’s use of the term meaning “letting the world go and giving oneself to God”) of thing and world, a releasing into the stillness and silence of no thing beyond where word breaks off. It is here where I may no longer be, and yet no thing is, but may be. (shrink)
the question of objectivity in legal interpretation has emerged in recent years as an imprtant topic in contemporary jurisprudence. This book addresses the issue of how and in what sense legal interpretation can be objective. The author supports the possibility of objectivity in law and spells out the content of objectivity involved. He then provides a defence against the classical, as well as less well-known, objections to the possibility of objectivity in legal interpretation. The discussion is thoroughly grounded in metaphysics, (...) which sets the book apart from other similar discussions in jurisprudence. Stavropoulos identifies an important source of resistance to the acceptance of the possibility of objectivity in legal interpretation; a widely held but faulty semantic. He then develops an alternative semantic framework, drawing on influential theories in contemporary philosophy. The book shows that objectivism is a natural, common sensical position, and rejects the currently popular notion that objectivism requires extravagant or bizarre metaphysics. Furthermore, the discussion presents the opportunity to re-interpret major debates in jurisprudence and to show how influential theories, notably H.L.A. Hart's and Ronald Dworkin's, bear on that issue. (shrink)