'Most of us are still groping for answers about what makes life worth living, or what confers meaning on individual lives', writes Charles Taylor in Sources of the Self. 'This is an essentially modern predicament.' Charles Taylor's latest book sets out to define the modern identity by tracing its genesis, analysing the writings of such thinkers as Augustine, Descartes, Montaigne, Luther, and many others. This then serves as a starting point for a renewed understanding of modernity. Taylor argues that modern (...) subjectivity has its roots in ideas of human good, and is in fact the result of our long efforts to define and attain the good. The modern turn inwards is far from being a disastrous rejection of rationality, as its critics contend, but has at its heart what Taylor calls the affirmation of ordinary life. He concludes that the modern identity, and its attendant rejection of an objective order of reason, is far richer in moral sources that its detractors allow. Sources of the Self provides a decisive defence of the modern order and a sharp rebuff to its critics. (shrink)
Three arguments are proposed against the idea that ordinary talk about the mind constitutes a folk psychology, a sort of prescientific theory which explains human behaviour and which is ripe for replacement by a neurological or computational theory with better scientific credentials. First, not all talk of the mind is introduced to explain in the way assumed by those who think that mental talk hypothesizes inner processes to explain behaviour. Second, the individuation of the behaviour which is explained by the (...) inner processes itself requires reference to ?mental? states such as intentions or desires. Consequently the project is circular. Finally, scientific theory is a practice with a history which may be matched in the case of ordinary talk of the mind. Certainly ordinary talk of motives, intentions, and thoughts may be infected by the theorizing of economists and sociologists et al., but it is impossible that all talk of the mind should be theoretical in this way. (shrink)
In the 11th chapter of the second book of Samuel, we read how King David saw Bathsheba in the evening: ‘v.2. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.’.
In this note I have presented the essentials of a view of how laws are falsified, a view which has been held by some notable philosophers but which is radically opposed to that of Professor Popper. I have not scrupled to ?improve? upon it, so the view of no one philosopher is presented. I try to show that an interesting and convincing account of scientific simplicity is implicit in the theory and I conclude by suggesting how we can bring the (...) argument to bear on the problem of the logical status of laws of nature, showing that through their manner of falsifiability, laws share some characteristics with necessary statements as well as with empirical generalizations. (shrink)
In his book _The Moral Case against Religious Belief_, the author argued that some important virtues cease to be virtues at all when set in a religious context, and that, consequently, a religious life is, in many respects, not a good life to lead. In this sequel he takes up the theme again because 'the intervening decade has brought home to us the terrible results of religious conviction'. He writes in the Introduction: ‘Most religious people are conventionally devout. Religion does (...) not play a huge part in their everyday lives and their moral life is not continuously under its gaze. I regard this as a thoroughly good thing.... My suspicion is that the more intense the religious devotion the more the morality is in danger.’. (shrink)
Making the Human Mind is an attack on the widespread assumption that the mind has parts, that the interaction between these parts accounts for some of the most characteristic human behavior, the sorts of irrational behavior displayed in self-deception and weakness of will. The implications of this attack are considerable: Sharpe contests a realism about the mind, the belief that there is an inventory which an all-seeing deity could compile containing answers to all the questions we ask about people, whether (...) they are deceitful or in love, or what their motivation is. With this goes the hermeneutic approach to the understanding of human behavior. These forms of understanding are markedly different from that suggested by the scientific model and favored by those who partition the mind. (shrink)
"Making the Human Mind" is an attack on the widespread assumption that the mind has parts and that it is the interaction between these parts which accounts for some of the most characteristic human behaviour, the sorts of irrational behaviour displayed in self-deception and weakness of will. The implications of this attack are considerable: Professor Sharpe contests a realism about the mind, the belief that there is an inventory which an all-seeing deity could compile and which could contain answers to (...) all the questions we could ask about people. With this goes a hermeneutic approach to the understanding of human behaviour: these forms of understanding are markedly different from that suggested by the scientific model and favoured by those who partition the mind. Finally, the author undermines eliminative materialism and the idea that the way we talk about the mind constitutes a "folk psychology", arguing that what is distinctively human about the human mind has been created by self-consciousness and is self-created. (shrink)
This lively and lucid introduction to the philosophy of music concentrates on the issues that illuminate musical listening and practice. It examines the conceptual debates relevant to the understanding and performing of music and grounds the philosophy to practical matters throughout. Ideal for a beginning readership with little philosophical background, the author provides an overview of the central debates enlivened by a real sense of enthusiasm for the subject and why it matters. The book begins by filling in the historical (...) background and offers readers a succinct summary of philosophical thinking on music from the Ancient Greeks to Eduard Hanslick and Edmund Gurney. Chapter 2 explores two central questions: what is it that makes music, or, to be precise, some pieces of music, works of art? And, what is the work of music per se? Is it just what we hear, the performance, or is it something over and above that, something we invent or discover? Chapter 3 discusses a problem pecullar to music and one at the heart of philosophical discussion of it, can music have a meaning? And if so, what can it be? Chapter 4 considers whether music can have value. Are there features about music that make it good, features which can be specified in criteria? Is a work good if and only if it meets with the approval of an ideally qualified listener? How do we explain differences of opinion? Indeed, why do we need to make judgements of the relative value of pieces of music at all? This engaging and stimulating book will be of interest to students of aesthetics, musical practitioners and the general reader looking for a non-technical treatment of the subject. (shrink)
This short book is intended to be read in an evening or even a sitting, though it provokes reflections that will go on for far longer. Professor Sharpe is a philosopher and writes as a post-Christian. He does not believe in God for moral reasons and argues that in some ways morality is corrupted by religion.