The thesis of this book, first published in 1972, is that Kant's notions of 'absolute worth', the 'unconditioned' and 'unconditioned worth' are rationalistic and confused, and that they spoil his ontology of personal value and tend to subvert his splendid idea of the person as an End in himself.
Professor Max Charlesworth and I worked, at Deakin University, on a course, 'Understanding Art'. Max was interested in the Social History of Art and in art as: 'giving form to mere matter'. Here 'form' might be read as 'lucid', 'exemplary', 'beautiful' etcetera. I am an Aristotle Poetics 4 man '… imitating something with the utmost veracity in a picture', and an Aristotle and John Cage man: 'Art is the imitation of nature in the manner of operation. Or a net'. (Cage) (...) (See Aristotle Meteorologica, 381b Book iv.) I was invited by the University of Melbourne to lecture on The Philosophy of Art, which I did for five delightful years. There I included the Heidegger essay, giving it as favourable a reading as I could. Unfortunately I have mislaid my marked-up copy and was forced to re-visit the essay, cold. My new reading lacks - in most respects - my former geniality. Kant's Aesthetic Ideas give us more than Heidegger does. So: I stuck with Aristotle, Cage and Kant. (shrink)
Benatar has a principle of asymmetry, i.e. that coming into existence as a human being is coming into a world in which harm is more likely than well-being. This is Thesis 1. Thesis 2 is that thesis 1 entails that one should not procreate. The threat of the end of civilization and the extinction of humanity by climate change renders ‘do not procreate’ a notion no longer counter-intuitive. Thesis 3 concerns ‘population and extinction’: he envisages ‘population zero’ as a desirable (...) consequence of thesis 2 even though ‘The last generation to die out would bear heavy burdens’. Benatar writes, ‘It would indeed have been better if no people had been added to the Edenic Lives of Adam and Eve’. The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck one hated. Benatar cites two schools of thought in the Talmud—the House of Hillel who thought the creation of humans was good and the House of Shammi thought it bad. Christians following Aquinas’ omne ens est bonum may find some Jewish notions quite the opposite of a Christian conviction, that, to be, is simply good. (shrink)
Antonello da Messina’s Annunciation with the Blessèd Virgin sola breaks with iconic convention, so inviting new interpretations of the theme. The Rome exhibition of 2006 allowed one to compare Antonello with van Eyck: Antonello seemed pre-modern. This review discusses three important essays on the Annunciation. All three perceptive essays raise theological and phenomenological issues directly related to the almost unique iconic representation which Antonello gives us.
‘Good’ is nothing specific but is transcendentally or generally applied over specific, and specified, ‘categories’. These ‘categories’ may be seen—at least for the purposes of this note—as under Platonic Forms. The rule that instances under a category or form need a Form to be under is valid. It may be tautological: but this is OK for rules. Not being specific, however, ‘good’ neither needs nor can have a specifying Form. So, on these grounds, the Form of the Good is otious. (...) Any rule of the kind, ‘Everything needs a Form, so good needs a Form of the Good’ is mistaken, in that good is not a kind, but a transcendental. To give a Form to the transcendental ‘good’ is a mistake: it is a Rylian category mistake. And the Form of the Good either does no work, or works unprofitably in any but an aesthetic sense. (shrink)
Hume was wrong about getting an ‘ought’ out of an ‘is’: We do it all the time. The precaution which ‘authors do not commonly use’ is a relevant principle which we insert between mere is and axiological ought. Pamela in Richardson’s Pamela had one notable principle: qv. Kant’s later insistence that we ‘Act only on that maxim that you can at the same time will be an universal law’ sinks Hume.
This volume engages in conversation with the thinking and work of Max Charlesworth as well as the many questions, tasks and challenges in academic and public life that he posed. It addresses philosophical, religious and cultural issues, ranging from bioethics to Australian Songlines, and from consultation in a liberal society to intentionality. The volume honours Max Charlesworth, a renowned and celebrated Australian public intellectual, who founded the journal Sophia, and trained a number of the present heirs to both Sophia and (...) academic disciplines as they were further developed and enhanced in Australia: Indigenous Australian studies, philosophy of religion, the study of the tension between tradition and modernity, phenomenology and existentialism, hermeneutics, feminist philosophy, and philosophy of science that is responsive to environmental issues. (shrink)
Hans Küng is a well-known, and harsh, critic of doctrine of papal infallibility declared at Vatican I, 1870–1871. It leads—he argues—not to transparent certainty, but away from it. A propos ‘infallibility’ and the still-running scandals of child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy, he writes:…While Rome no longer dares to proclaim formally infallible doctrines, it still envelopes all of its doctrinal pronouncements with an aura of infallibility, as though the Pope’s words were a direct expression of God’s will (...) or Christ’s voice.Instead—that is—of getting a formal assertion as in the case of the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessèd Virgin Mary, we now get obita dicta, cranky stuff about being silent on the matter of the ordination of women, and so on set forth as ‘“almost” infallible. So just shut up!’Taizé is OK: but taise toi! will no longer do. We are all the ‘priestly people of God’ according to Vatican II. Küng does not use the .. (shrink)
He’s a terrible fellow, but at least he’s got substance.—Erich Auerbach on HeideggerMy esteemed colleague Purushottama Bilimoria drew my attention to Shane Mackinlay’s ‘Heidegger’s Temple: How Truth Happens when Nothing is Portrayed’. My friend wondered whether my piece on ‘The Origin of the Work of Art: Heidegger’ in Sophia 51, no.4 (2012): 465–478 was a reply to Mackinlay. It was not.I had not in fact read Shane Mackinlay’s elegant essay. Having read it now, I do not entirely agree with it: (...) Nor he, with my essay, no doubt. The Republic of Letters is wide open.The point perhaps that Bilimoria wanted to me to consider was that Mackinlay makes much of ‘nothing’, as did Bilimoria himself in his arrestingly titled, ‘Why is there Nothing rather than Something?’ (Sophia 51, no.4 (2012): 509–530). He, in conversation, has wanted me to make more of—the concept of?—nothing than I am accustomed to do. I doubt if I can rise to the challenge, beyond the Oxbridge ‘I don’t quite understand…’. If ev. (shrink)
The paper concludes the argument that certain aesthetic objects conduce to a feeling of radical contingency, and to an openness to St Thomas's Third Way proof for the existence of God. Much is conceded to the late Mr Gershon Weiler's criticism of an earlier discussion. The upshot is (a) that Necessary Being as converse of radical contingency may be an Aesthetic Idea/Sublime of Kant's kind, and (b) that without the ‘I AM that I am’, it is empty. The ‘inference’ from (...) radical contingency to Necessary Being may function as George Eliot thought Wit to function, intellectually/aesthetically. (shrink)
Christ’s name is often taken in vain, but not in this book title. It is at once a prayer and a cry of anguish. Robinson was deputed to deal with the whole abuse problem in the Archdiocese of Sydney and knows horrid things at first hand: abuse and clerical cover-ups, both.Bishop Robinson’s book is practical—if perhaps at the time of publication unduly sanguine. He calls, in chapter 13 for ‘A New Council for a New Church’ to enable to get the (...) problem of sexual abuse fixed and for the Church to get out of its self-constructed ‘prison of the past’.See Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus, Melbourne, Garrett Publishing 2007: reviewed in Sophia, vol.47, pp.231–239 in 2008. See page 119 and passim. The authoritarian Church to date has not squarely faced, and not by any means fixed, the sexual abuse problem. It can do this, Robinson argues, only if it changes both its ways and its structures. Such a change, Robinson suggests, could happen if there we. (shrink)
Human sexuality is not binary: this, although counter-intuitive initially, is a medical fact. Homo-sexuality was an anomaly under a M/F taxonomy, and so ‘unnatural’ and ‘an abomination’. It is a mere statistical anomaly: it is a fact of Nature, nevertheless. Doctrines of Natural Law must recognize that even if Nature is stable, the notion/word ‘Nature’ is a shifter. As medical and other sciences amend our understanding of Nature, the idea of ‘Nature’ shifts. Natural Law theory is – and must continue (...) to be – based on Nature: the contents of the idea of ‘Nature’ change progressively. So must cultural attitudes. (shrink)
A review of Peter Steele’s: The Whispering Gallery: Art into Poetry, in which Steele writes poems on and to paintings and the sculpture Black Sun in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Each work on which there is a poem is reproduced. In this book Steele writes more to the ‘contour’ of the topic-work than he did in Plenty. His poems – as ever sidenoted – are tensed between the topicality of the work of art in question, and Kant’s (...) aesthetic which involves ‘the free play of the cognitive faculties’. In ths tension lies the particular pleasure of Steele’s poetry. (shrink)