In the movie Regarding Henry, the main character, Henry Turner, is a lawyer who suffers brain damage as a result of being shot during a robbery. Before being wounded, the Old Henry Turner had been a successful lawyer, admired as a fierce competitor and well-known for his killer instinct. As a result of the injury to his brain, the New Henry Turner loses the personality traits that had made the Old Henry such a formidable adversary.
In this paper I propose to examine the cognitive status of mystical experience. There are, I think, three distinct but overlapping sorts of religious experience. In the first place, there are two kinds of mystical experience. The extrovertive or nature mystic identifies himself with a world which is both transfigured and one. The introvertive mystic withdraws from the world and, after stripping the mind of concepts and images, experiences union with something which can be described as an undifferentiated unity. Introvertive (...) mysticism is a more important phenomenon than extrovertive mysticism. Numinous experiences are complex experiences involving dread, awe, wonder, and fascination. One finds oneself confronted with something which is radically unlike ordinary objects. Before its overwhelming majesty and power, one is nothing but dust and ashes. In contrasting oneself with its uncanny beauty and goodness, one experiences one's own uncleanness and ugliness. The experiences bound up with the devotional life of the ordinary believer are also religious in character. Nevertheless these more ordinary experiences should, I think, be distinguished both from numinous experiences and from mystical experiences, for they do not appear to involve the sense of immediate presence which characterises the latter. (shrink)
The degradation of modern sport--its commercialization, trivialization, widespread cheating, cult of athletic stars and celebrities, and manipulation by the media--has led to calls for its transformation. William J. Morgan constructs a critical theory of sport that shores up the weak arguments of past attempts and points a way forward to making sport more humane, compelling, and substantive. Drawing on the work of social theorists, Morgan challenges scholars and fans alike to explore new spaces in sport culture and imagine the (...) rich cultural and political possibilities to be found in the pastimes we follow with such passion. (shrink)
In a series of important and influential books, Wilfred Cantwell Smith has convincingly argued that religious traditions are misunderstood if one does not grasp the faith which they express, that these traditions are not static but fluid, and that as a result of greater knowledge and increased contact between members of different traditions, we have entered a period in which it is no longer possible for the traditions to develop in relative isolation. This paper is devoted to an important aspect (...) of Smith's thought – his distinction between faith and propositional belief. (shrink)
The falsifiability of theistic assertions no longer appears to be the burning issue it once was, and perhaps this is all to the good. For one thing, it was never entirely clear just what demand was being made of the theist. In this paper I shall not discuss the nature or legitimacy of the falsification requirement as applied to theistic assertions. Instead I shall argue that some of the reasons which have been offered to show that these assertions are not (...) falsifiable are by no means conclusive. Since the most plausible bit of anti-theistic evidence is the existence of evil, it would seem to be legitimate for us to devote our attention to arguments which are designed to show that the theist does not allow the presence of evil to count against his claims. (shrink)
Although william james wrote no complete philosophy of science, nonetheless there exist in his writings several references to scientific procedure. furthermore, these are anti-positivistic in tone. these references include: 1) a rejection of the old baconian model for science; 2) an assertion that competing conceptual models of experience exist, each one of which can account for the empirical data in question; 3) nonetheless, a refusal either to reduce different conceptual theories to one conceptual outlook, or to reduce conceptual models (...) as a whole to sensory experience; and 4) an assertion that the scientist is an active transformer of his environment. in this paper i discuss these issues. (shrink)
William james is often thought of as a philosopher who rejected language as incapable of dealing with the unfinished character of the universe. Actually, There are two different complementary uses of language in james' texts. Sometimes he does reject language as inadequate; but at other times he presents a surprisingly "modern" view of language. Specifically, James recognized that meanings vary from context to context; that some words have an "intentional" aspect, And that language cannot be viewed as consisting of (...) substantive words strung together by neutral logical connectives. In this paper, I try to "unpack" these two different natures of uses language found in james' works. (shrink)
The american philosopher william james has been accused of being both a positivist and a romantic intuitionist. in the present paper, i wish to defend james from both charges. first, an analysis of the james texts will indicate that: 1) he refuses to distinguish clearly sensation, percept and concept; 2) he recognizes the ontological status of concepts; and, 3) he uses the word "perceptual" in two different ways. this two-fold use of the word has been the source of much (...) difficulty and forces us to deal, secondly, with the issue of james' opinion of language. he is often thought of as a romanticist, as someone who believed that life was beyond all language. we shall try to show that this view also is wrong, and that there exist two different views of language in his texts. (shrink)
Martin Heidegger wrote one and only one preface for a scholarly work on his thinking, and it was for William J. Richardson’s study Heidegger: Through Phenomenology to Thought, first published in 1963. Ever since, both Heidegger’s Preface and Richardson’s groundbreaking book have played an important role in Heidegger scholarship. Much has been discussed about these texts over the decades, but what has not been available to students and scholars up to this point is Richardson’s original comments and questions to (...) Heidegger that led to the famous Preface. These are published here for the first time both in the German original and in our English translation. In our commentary we 1) discuss how Heidegger’s Preface came about, 2) explain the source and status of the materials published here, and 3) pair selected passages from Richardson’s text with Heidegger’s reply in his Preface to highlight the consonance of their thinking. (shrink)
In these essays, J.L. Mehta, Indian philosopher in whose life and work East and West met profoundly, reflects on the origins and potency of modern hermeneutics and phenomenology, and applies the principles of interpretation to Hindu traditions. These farseeing essays show a hopeful way for non-Western cultures to gain insight into the basic presuppositions of the Western world, and to reclaim their own origins and ways of thinking, and to participate in an emerging planetary thinking.
Rarely have I begun a book with such keen enthusiasm only later to cool to a deep but respectful ambivalence. In this clearly written and thoughtful monograph, Canadian analytic philosopher J. L. Schellenberg spurs readers to think about religion in evolutionary terms analogous to how Darwin and others have taught us to think about nature. As I will outline, I think he has mixed success in this engaging endeavor.Schellenberg’s valuable insight, and the source of my initial enthusiasm, is his emphasis (...) on the full spectrum of what he calls “deep time” (pp. 1–7). Evolutionary thinking has rightly taught us to take the long view, but it is difficult for us to fully grasp the immensity of what this means. “Evolutionary time,” he notes, “is of an extent almost beyond fathoming—that’s why scientists call it ‘deep.”’ Quoting Stephen Jay Gould, he continues: “‘[A]n abstract, intellectual understanding of deep time comes easily enough—I know how many zeroes to place after 10 when I mean billions .. (shrink)
"This book, one of the most frequently cited works on Martin Heidegger in any language, belongs on any short list of classic studies of Continental philosophy. William J. Richardson explores the famous turn in Heidegger's thought after Being in Time and demonstrates how this transformation was radical without amounting to a simple contradiction of his earlier views." "In a full account of the evolution of Heidegger's work as a whole, Richardson provides a detailed, systematic, and illuminating account of both (...) divergences and fundamental continuities in Heidegger's philosophy, especially in light of recently published works. He demonstrates that the "thinking" of Being for the later Heidegger has exactly the same configuration as the radical phenomenology of the early Heidegger, once he has passed through the "turning" of his way." Including as a preface the letter that Heidegger wrote to Richardson and a new writer's preface and epilogue, the new edition of this valuable guide will be an essential resource for students and scholars for many years to come. (shrink)
What implications, if any, does evolutionary biology have for metaethics? Many believe that our evolutionary background supports a deflationary metaethics, providing a basis at least for debunking ethical realism. Some arguments for this conclusion appeal to claims about the etiology of the mental capacities we employ in ethical judgment, while others appeal to the etiology of the content of our moral beliefs. In both cases the debunkers’ claim is that the causal roles played by evolutionary factors raise deep epistemic problems (...) for realism: if ethical truths are objective or independent of our evaluative attitudes, as realists maintain, then we lose our justification for our ethical beliefs once we become aware of the evolutionary shaping of our ethical capacities or beliefs, which would not have disposed us reliably to track independent ethical truths; realism, they claim, thus saddles us with ethical skepticism. I distinguish and spell out various evolutionary debunking arguments along these lines and argue that they all fail: the capacity etiology argument fails to raise any special or serious problem for realism, and the content etiology arguments all rely on strong explanatory claims about our moral beliefs that are simply not supported by the science unless it is supplemented by philosophical claims that just beg the question against realism from the start. While the various debunking arguments do bring out some interesting commitments of ethical realism, and even raise some good challenges as realists develop positive moral epistemologies, they fall far short of their debunking ambitions. (shrink)
There are at least two passages in the jamesian corpus where he seems to establish a topology of "regional ontologies", or to set up multiple "language games". the first of these is "the principles of psychology" when he talks about "the many worlds", or "...sub-universes commonly discriminated from each other...", the second is in "pragmatism", where he notes that there "are...at least three well-characterized levels, stages, or types of thought about the world we live in..." two questions immediately come to (...) mind about these levels. first, is each of these areas of equal importance, epistemologically and ontologically speaking? second, how, if at all, are these regional areas related to each other? each of these questions has a seemingly obvious answer. to wit, the world of perception is more important than any of the other areas; and second, the regional areas are related in terms of the disjunctive and conjunctive transitions which james so strenuously upholds, resulting in an overall "concatenated" picture. i argue that both of these responses are insufficient, and that the issue is more complicated than it first appears. (edited). (shrink)
This paper seeks to explore the significance of a specific kind of religious experience for the rationality of religious belief. The context for this is a gap between what is often allowed as rational and what is embraced as certain in the life of faith. The claim to certainty at issue is related to the work and experience of the Holy Spirit; this experience has a structure which is explored phenomenologically. Thereafter various ways of cashing in the epistemic value of (...) the purported claim to certainty are examined. (shrink)
How do thought and language manage to be 'about' aspects of the world? J. Robert G. Williams investigates how representation arises out of a fundamentally non-representational world, showing the explanatory relations between the representational properties of language, of thought, and of perception and intention.
Symbols in computer programs are not necessarily isomorphic in form or capability to neural processes. Representations in our models are stored descriptions of the world and human behavior, created by a human interpreter; representations in the brain are neither immutable forms nor encoded in some language. Although the term " symbol " can be usefully applied to describe words, smoke signals, neural maps, and graphic icons, a science of symbol processing requires distinguishing between the structural, developmental, and interactive nature of (...) different forms of representing. (shrink)