My interest here is in the way Leo Strauss and his followers, the Straussians, have dealt with race and rights, race and slavery in the history of the United States. I want, first, to assess Leo Strauss's rather ambivalent attitude toward America and explore the various ways that his followers have in turn analyzed the Lockean underpinnings of the American “regime,” sometimes in contradistinction to Strauss's views on the topic. With that established, I turn to the account, particularly that offered (...) by Harry Jaffa, of how slavery and race comported—or did not—with the Straussian account of the political foundations of the new nation and how latter-day followers of Strauss have dealt with the persisting topic of race and racism in America. Overall, I want to make two large points. First, the Straussian commitment to superhistorical standards provides the Straussians with a moral perspective on slavery, race, and racism. Second, though race and slavery have been less than central among the concerns of most followers of Strauss, the contributions of Jaffa and others have significantly shaped the present American conservative position on race, including the idea of color-blindness. (shrink)
It is tempting to think that we have heard just about all we want or need to know about race. As the above quotes indicate, modern notions of race have always revolved around the faculty of vision, with supplementary contributions from other senses such as hearing, as Arendt notes in a tacit allusion to one mark of Jewish difference—the way they sounded when concentrated in urban settings. Yet two very recent works—Mark M. Smith's How Race Is Made and Anne C. (...) Rose's Psychology and Selfhood in the Segregated South —have much to teach us about how race has “worked”, particularly in the twentieth-century South but also, by implication, in the United States in general. Both works assume that, historically, race is no mere add-on to the self, a kind of externality that, once detected, can be relatively easily excised. Rather, it stands right at the heart of personal and group identity in a nation where race and ethnicity continue to assume surprising new shapes and forms. (shrink)
Public and professional debates have come to rely heavily on a special type of reasoning: the argument-from-ignorance, in which conclusions depend on the _lack_ of compelling information. "I win my argument," says the skillful advocate, "unless you can prove that I am wrong." This extraordinary gambit has been largely ignored in modern rhetorical and philosophical studies. Yet its broad force can be demonstrated by analogy with the modern legal system, where courts have long manipulated burdens of proof with skill and (...) subtlety. This legal, philosophical, and rhetorical study by Richard H. Gaskins provides the first systematic treatment of arguments-from-ignorance across a wide range of modern discourse—from constitutional law, scientific inquiry, and moral philosophy to organizational behavior, computer operation, and personal interaction. Gaskins reviews the historic shifts in constitutional proof burdens that have shaped public debate on fundamental rights and, by analogy, on the fundamental status of intellectual and cultural authority. He shows how similar shifts have dominated polemical battles between scientific and ethical modes of authority, affecting both academic and popular discussion. Finally, he discovers the philosophical roots of default reasoning strategies in the arguments of Kant and nineteenth-century Kantian schools. Concluding that shifting proof burdens are inescapable in a world of scientific and moral uncertainty, Gaskins emphasizes the common strategic ground shared by dogmatic and skeptical reasoning. Using Hegelian strategies, he describes a more pluralistic temper that can move critical thinking beyond polemics and strengthen our capacities for common discourse. (shrink)
Many existing biomedical vocabulary standards rest on incomplete, inconsistent or confused accounts of basic terms pertaining to diseases, diagnoses, and clinical phenotypes. Here we outline what we believe to be a logically and biologically coherent framework for the representation of such entities and of the relations between them. We defend a view of disease as involving in every case some physical basis within the organism that bears a disposition toward the execution of pathological processes. We present our view in the (...) form of a list of terms and definitions designed to provide a consistent starting point for the representation of both disease and diagnosis in information systems in the future. (shrink)
Public health is concerned with increasing the health of the community at whole. Insofar as health is a ‘good’ and the community constitutes a ‘public’, public health by definition promotes a ‘public good’. But ‘public good’ has a particular and much more narrow meaning in the economics literature, and some commentators have tried to limit the scope of public health to this more narrow meaning of a ‘public good’. While such a move makes the content of public health less controversial, (...) it also strips important goals from the realm of public health, goals that traditionally have been, and morally should be, a part of it. Instead, I will argue, while public health should be defined by public goods, it should be defined by a broader conception of public goods that I shall call ‘normative public goods’, goods that ought to be treated as if they were public goods in the more narrow sense. (shrink)
A Pluralistic Universe is America's favourite philosopher's last complete work before he died in 1910. Nevertheless, it has been somewhat neglected as a final self-reckoning. Indeed the term "pragmatism" occurs pretty rarely in it, while "experience" and "pluralism" abound. As introduced and annotated by H.G. Callaway, the Cambridge Scholars edition offers some valuable background on James and the text itself, particularly for the nonspecialist reader. Besides retaining James's notes, Callaway has also provided his own glosses on important philosophical terms, translations (...) of the foreign phrases James so often fell back on, and an expanded index and new bibliography to the text. It is, as Callaway says, a "reading and study edition" (ix). (shrink)
In the world according to Hume, people are complicated creatures, with convoluted, often contradictory characters. Consider, for example, Hume's controversial assessment of Charles I: "The character of this prince, as that of most men, if not of all men, was mixed .... To consider him in the most favourable light, it may be affirmed, that his dignity was free from pride, his humanity from weakness, his bravery from rashness, his temperance from austerity, his frugality from avarice .... To speak the (...) most harshly of him, we may affirm, that many of his good qualities were attended with some latent frailty, which, though seemingly inconsiderable, was able, when seconded by the extreme malevolence of his fortune, to disappoint them of all their influence: His beneficent disposition was clouded by a manner not very gracious; his virtue was tinctured with superstition; his good sense was disfigured by a deference to persons of a capacity inferior to his own; and his moderate temper exempted him not from hasty and precipitate resolutions." This sketch shows Charles in all his complexities, with his virtues, near virtues, and contradicting virtues. I have quoted it at length because it is hard to summarize without losing the subtleties that lie within it. Hume's moral theory is based fundamentally on judgments of character, 2 so those subtleties are important to his view. The character sketches that pervade the.. (shrink)
This authoritative new introduction draws on both Richard H. Popkin's unparalleled scholarship and a wealth of historical and philosophical sources to highlight the real influences behind Spinoza's thought. Popkin reconstructs Spinoza the man, and his theories, contrasting these findings with some of the popularity held misconceptions. Locating him within the context of his family and background, the author assesses the impact on Spinoza of everything from his infamous excommunication, to his affection for Euclidian geometry and the work of Descartes. (...) With a full account of Spinoza's groundbreaking Tractatus and Ethics, and an overview of his influence on both of his contemporaries and those who were to folow, this concise survey offers a variety of new perspectives, and will be warmly welcomed by students, scholars and interested readers alike. (shrink)
This article explicates, in a concrete, step-by-step manner, some procedures that can be followed in phenomenologically analyzing interview data. It also addresses a number of issues that are raised in relation to phenomenological research.
: The idea of enhancing our mental functions through medical means makes many people uncomfortable. People have a vague feeling that altering our brains tinkers with the core of our personalities and the core of ourselves. It changes who we are, and doing so seems wrong, even if the exact reasons for the unease are difficult to define. Many of the standard arguments against neuroenhancements—that they are unsafe, that they violate the distinction between therapy and enhancements, that they undermine equality, (...) and that they will be used coercively—fail to show why the use of any such technologies is wrong in principle. Two other objections—the arguments that such changes undermine our integrity and that they prevent us from living authentic lives—will condemn only a few of the uses that are proposed. The result is that very few uses of these drugs are morally suspect and that most uses are morally permissible. (shrink)
This book gives a descriptive analysis of specific Madhyamika texts. It compares the ideology of Kumarajiva (a translator of the four Madhyamika treatises 400 A.D.) with the ideologies of the three Chinese contemporaries - HuiYuan, Seng-Jui and Seng-Chao. It envisages an intercultural transmission of religious and philosophical ideas from India to China.
We explore why people feel the socially improper emotions of schadenfreude and gluckschmerz. One explanation follows from sentiment relations. Prior dislike leads to both schadenfreude and gluckschmerz. A second explanation relates to concerns over justice. Deserved misfortune is pleasing and undeserved good fortune is displeasing. A third explanation concerns appraisal of the good or bad fortunes of others as creating either benefit or harm for the self or in-group. Especially in competitive situations and when envy is present, gain is pleasing (...) and loss is displeasing. Both emotions have important implications for understanding human relations at the individual and group levels. (shrink)
The complete title of the Principles is A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. Wherein the chief causes of error and difficulty in the Sciences, with the grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and Irreligion, are Inquired into. The complete title of the Dialogues is Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. The design of which is plainly to demonstrate the reality and perfection of human knowledge, the incorporeal nature of the soul, and the immediate providence of a Deity: in opposition to (...) Sceptics and Atheists. Also to open a method for rendering the Sciences more easy, useful, and compendious. The introductions to each work, as well as various remarks in the Philosophical Commentaries, explain at greater length the author's intention of refuting the sceptics and atheists. In the initial section of the introduction to the Principles, Berkeley had said that the attempt to understand the nature of things had led men into all sorts of "uncouth paradoxes, difficulties, and inconsistencies,... till at length, having wander'd through many intricate mazes, we find ourselves just where we were, or, which is worse, sit down in a forlorn scepticism." And a few sections later, Berkeley stated that his intention was to discover the sources of the absurdities and contradictions that have entered philosophy, and to eliminate them. (shrink)
Richard H. Bell analyzes the social and political thought of Simone Weil, paying particular attention to Weil's concept of justice as compassion. Bell describes the ways in which Weil's concept of justice stands in contrast with liberal 'rights-based' views of justice, and focuses upon central aspects of her thought, including 'attention,' human suffering and 'affliction,' and the importance of 'a spiritual way of life' in reshaping the individual's role in civic life.
Reductionism’s approach brings together many of the most interesting questions today in philosophy and in science . It also presents a brief history of how reductionism has developed in Western philosophy and religion, with reference to Indian philosophy on certain issues.
Richard Popkin has assembled 63 leading scholars to forge a highly approachable chronological account of the development of Western philosophical traditions. From Plato to Wittgenstein and from Aquinas to Heidegger, this volume provides lively, in-depth, and up-to-date historical analysis of all the key figures, schools, and movements of Western philosophy. The Columbia History significantly broadens the scope of Western philosophy to reveal the influence of Middle Eastern and Asian thought, the vital contributions of Jewish and Islamic philosophers, and the (...) role of women within the tradition. Along with a wealth of new scholarship, recently discovered works in 17th- and 18th-century philosophy are considered, such as previously unpublished works by Locke that inspire a new assessment of the evolution of his ideas. Popkin also emphasizes schools and developments that have traditionally been overlooked. Sections on Aristotle and Plato are followed by a detailed presentation on Hellenic philosophy and its influence on the modern developments of materialism and scepticism. A chapter has been dedicated to Jewish and Moslem philosophical development during the Middle Ages, focusing on the critical role of figures such as Averroës and Moses Maimonides in introducing Christian thinkers to classical philosophy. Another chapter considers Renaissance philosophy and its seminal influence on the development of modern humanism and science. Turning to the modern era, contributors consider the importance of the Kaballah to Spinoza, Leibniz, and Newton and the influence of popular philosophers like Moses Mendelssohn upon the work of Kant. This volume gives equal attention to both sides of the current rift in philosophy between continental and analytic schools, charting the development of each right up to the end of the 20th century. Each chapter includes an introductory essay, and Popkin provides notes that draw connections among the separate articles. The rich bibliographic information and the indexes of names and terms make the volume a valuable resource. Combining a broad scope and penetrating analysis with a keen sense of what is relevant for the modern reader, _The Columbia History of Western Philosophy_ will prove an accessible introduction for students and an informative overview for general readers. (shrink)
A review, with reflections, of Michael S. Gazzaniga's (2011) book, Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain. Gazzaniga, a distinguished neuroscientist, wishes to connect contemporary understandings of the functioning of the human brain to the proper functioning of the American courtroom. What effect, if any, should these current understandings (and current technologies) have on legal conceptions of personal responsibility, guilt, and punishment? If, as many neuroscientists hold, the functioning of the brain wholly determines the functioning of (...) the mind, can people rightly be held responsible for their actions? Gazzaniga argues that they can. (shrink)
Our varied communities of discourse face a rhetorical future shaped by juridical styles reminiscent of the "adversary culture" postulated by post-war American critic Lionel Trilling. Itself the subject of litigious debate. the adversarial spirit today shows few signs of weakening, but its influence can be better understood and guided along certain tracks. To influence this adversarial style in coming decades, we need to explore the difference between evidencebased reasoning, which draws on the sensationalist logic ofinduction. and reflexive reasoning, which draws (...) on the second-order logic of presumption. Understanding the structures and dynamics of this reflexive style forces us to address our responsibilities as speakers, as we seek to shape our rhetorical future. Close examination of adversarial contlict may lead us toward useful consensus on how the new game should be played. (shrink)
Few people will easily admit to taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others. But who doesn't enjoy it when an arrogant but untalented contestant is humiliated on American Idol, or when the embarrassing vice of a self-righteous politician is exposed, or even when an envied friend suffers a small setback? The truth is that joy in someone else's pain--known by the German word schadenfreude--permeates our society. In The Joy of Pain, psychologist Richard Smith, one of the world's foremost authorities (...) on envy and shame, sheds much light on a feeling we dare not admit. Smith argues that schadenfreude is a natural human emotion, one worth taking a closer look at, as it reveals much about who we are as human beings. We have a passion for justice. Sometimes, schadenfreude can feel like getting one's revenge, when the suffering person has previously harmed us. But most of us are also motivated to feel good about ourselves, Smith notes, and look for ways to maintain a positive sense of self. One common way to do this is to compare ourselves to others and find areas where we are better. Similarly, the downfall of others--especially when they have seemed superior to us--can lead to a boost in our self-esteem, a lessening of feelings of inferiority. This is often at the root of schadenfreude. As the author points out, most instances of schadenfreude are harmless, on par with the pleasures of light gossip. Yet we must also be mindful that envy can motivate, without full awareness, the engineering of the misfortune we delight in. And envy-induced aggression can take us into dark territory indeed, as Smith shows as he examines the role of envy and schadenfreude in the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Filled with engaging examples of schadenfreude, from popular reality shows to the Duke-Kentucky basketball rivalry, The Joy of Pain provides an intriguing glimpse into a hidden corner of the human psyche. (shrink)
Hume's brilliant and dispassionate essay Of Miracles has been added in this expanded edition of his _Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion_, which also includes Of the Immortality of the Soul, Of Suicide, and Richard Popkin's illuminating Introduction.