Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anon. "Capitalism Under Assault." ADBUSTERS July 23, 2008.

Not long ago, Roberto Mangabeira Unger was leading a life of academic stardom, working as a professor at Harvard Law School. The 60-year-old had first joined the faculty at age 24. By 29, he became one of the youngest tenured professors in the school’s history. His prominence expanded far beyond the field of law. Unger wrote prodigiously, churning out an endless stream of ideas about philosophy, politics, economics and social theory. He was, and he remains, a committed, radical leftist; he embraces the very idea of radicalism as a central pillar of his political philosophy. But now Unger has the chance to change history’s course. The Rio de Janeiro native was appointed last summer to be a minister in the government of Brazil. He has long been a critic of Brazil’s various governing regimes, including that of the man who appointed him, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. But now Unger is working from within government, instead of as an outsider. He will be the minister for strategic affairs – a job many call the “Minister of Ideas.” The question is whether his ideas will survive the cut and thrust of governmental politics, or be rendered as merely – in the most belittling sense of the word – academic. . . . Read the rest here:

Lippitt, John. "Hegel and the Chicken Suit." TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION March 31, 2008.

Zupancic, Alenka. The Odd One In: on Comedy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. This book, by one of the three Slovenian philosophers central to the Lacan-inspired Ljubljana school of psychoanalysis, appears in a series called "Short Circuits". The other two - Slavoj Zizek and Mladen Dolar - are liberally cited, and the former contributes a foreword to the series in which he explains its name. A short circuit "occurs when there is a faulty connection in the network - faulty . . . from the standpoint of the network's smooth functioning". This makes short-circuiting "one of the best metaphors for a critical reading". By approaching various areas of inquiry from a Lacanian standpoint, we are told, we make them readable in a "totally new" and "disturbing" way. But the other, unmentioned, possibility is that a short circuit might plunge the reader into darkness, making it difficult to find one's way around. Such is the case, I fear, in several parts of this book. The reader relatively unfamiliar with concepts such as the Real and the Symbolic in their Lacanian-Zizekian modes isn't given much of a torch. . . . Read the whole review here:

Benhabib, Seyla. "On the Public Sphere, Deliberation, Journalism and Dignity." DIALOGUES ON CIVLISATIONS July 21, 2008.

An Interview with Karin Wahl-Jorgensen. We are facing a generation who is getting all its information online. The consequence is that one’s points of reference are so multiple that they may not intersect and a common world may not emerge. But fragmentation can also bring effervescence – says Seyla Benhabib, philosopher and Professor of political science and philosophy at Yale - . One medium that is in great crisis is television. I would like to see a citizens’ forum, rather than these continuously self-referential talking heads and so-called experts. We extend the boundaries of our sympathy by understanding the conditions of others who may be radically different than us – she concludes – At its best journalism does this; it extends your vision of the world by making you see the world through the eyes of the others.” . . . Read the whole interview here:

Furedi, Frank. "Spell It Like It is." SPIKED ONLINE August 12, 2008.

Those of us who work in universities are used to reading essays by students who have liberated themselves from the oppressive regime of good grammar and spelling. Some of us still bother to correct misspelled words; others have become tired and indifferent to the problem of poor spelling. Now, an academic has come up with an interesting compromise. Ken Smith, a criminologist at Bucks New University, England, argues that we should chill out and accept the most common spelling mistakes as ‘variant spellings’. . . .

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Gerson, Lloyd P. "Review of Kevin Corrigan, et al., eds. PLATONISMS." BMCR (August 2008).

Corrigan, Kevin, and John D. Turner, eds. Platonisms: Ancient, Modern, and Postmodern. Leiden: Brill, 2007. The "Platonisms" of the title of this book is evidently used as equivalent to "varieties of Platonism" or "versions of Platonism," where the "variety" or "version" indicates an interpretation of Plato's dialogues or of the implications of the claims made therein. Usually, though, a variety of Platonism is attributable to a philosopher who is defending that position. Thus, we speak of the Platonism of Speusippus or of Numenius or of Proclus and designate their different doctrines as varieties of Platonism. We usually do not speak of the Platonism of philosophers who are not self-proclaimed followers of Plato in some sense; thus, we do not normally refer to Descartes' Platonism or Levinas' Platonism, even though their engagement with Plato is certain to be an engagement with some variety of Platonism. Nor do we typically designate as a variety of Platonism a philosophical position that either agrees with a variety of Platonism at some very general level or with some relatively remote consequence of a Platonic position. So, philosophers who argue for the existence of a first principle of all or even for the importance of critical reflection in human life are not said thereby to embrace a variety of Platonism. The same is true for philosophers who, for example, argue for a purely remedial theory of punishment. In the present volume, "Platonisms" is a term used with maximal scope, thus justifying the immense range of topics covered as well as methodologies employed. There is no harm in this; indeed, it is a positive step in demonstrating the extraordinary fecundity of Plato's thought. Still, I would be surprised if many individuals would have sufficient interest in enough of the areas covered to want to pay the very considerable price for this book. . . . Read the whole review here:

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Evolution and Morality," Annual Meeting, American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, Boston, August 28-29, 2008.

Conference co-chairs: Sanford Levinson, W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair of Law and Professor of Government, University of Texas; and James Fleming, the Honorable Frank R. Kenison Distinguished Scholar in Law, Boston University Thursday, August 28 4:15 PM: Panel 1. Hynes 105 Philip Kitcher, John Dewey Professor of Philosophy and James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization, Columbia University: "Naturalistic Ethics without Fallacies" Commentators: Jonathan Beckwith, American Cancer Society Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School Robin B. Kar, Professor of Law, Loyola Law School Chair: James Fleming 7:30 PM: Evening Reception, Sheraton Exeter Friday, August 29 7:00 AM: Breakfast reception 7:50 AM: Annual business meeting, Sheraton Independence Ballroom West 8:00 AM: Panel 2. Sheraton Independence Ballroom West Nita Farahany, Assistant Professor of Law and Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University: "Law and Behavioral Morality" Commentators:Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor of Philosophy and Hardy Professor of Legal Studies, Dartmouth University Jennifer Culbert, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University Chair: Jacob T. Levy, Tomlinson Professor of Political Theory, McGill University 10:15 AM: Panel 3, Sheraton Independence Ballroom West Larry Arnhart, Professor of Political Science, Northern Illinois University: "Deep History in Biopolitical Science" Commentators: Daniel Lord Smail, Professor of History, Harvard University Richard Richards, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Alabama Chair: Donald Horowitz, James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science, Duke University Conference attendees may be interested in continuing discussion at the separate APSA Panel 3-34, Genes, Justice, and the Politics of Biotechnologies, Friday, 2 PM, with the following papers: Anja Karnein, Designing Our Children: Will This Create a New Inequality Between the Generations? Bruno Macaes, When Politics Transcends Biology Ashley Biser, Equal Yet Distinct: Plurality and the Politics of Genetics Further information may be found here:

Annual Meeting, American Anthropological Association, San Francisco, November 19-23, 2008.

The theme is "Inclusion, Collaboration and Engagement." Highlights include: “HIV/AIDS: Underscoring Needs for and Challenges to Collaboration” is jointly offered from the Association for Africanist Anthropology and the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA). Presenters will analyze why and how we must reconceptualize our theoretical understandings of culture and society, as well as our approaches to health, development, community capacity building and international collaboration to address the HIV/AIDS crisis. “Radical Archaeology as Critical Anthropology: Papers Honoring Thomas C Patterson” is sponsored by the Archeology Division. Papers will examine such issues as the influence of archaeology on anthropological theory and articulations between native communities and archaeologists. “The Legacy of Daphne Berdahl” will be presented by the Society for the Anthropology of Europe. Daphne Berdahl was one of anthropology’s leading scholars of Central and Eastern Europe. Papers will assess her contributions to such areas as the anthropology of borderlands, memory and consumption. One of the roundtables sponsored by the National Association of Student Anthropologists, “Graduate Student Collaborations and Engagements in Environmental Change Research,” will stress how graduate students can collaborate on integrative research programs focused on the human dimensions of environmental change. The Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness and the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology will cosponsor the invited session “Black Atlantic and Caribbean Religions: Transnational Flows and Local Histories.” This session will bring together researchers documenting the histories of specific religious communities throughout the region. The Society for East Asian Anthropology highlights its session “Reinventing the Chinese State.” This panel shows, through five finelyetched ethnographic portraits, that the Chinese state has reinvented itself as an omnipresent force. NAPA and the Anthropology and Environment Section have collaborated to produce “Researching a Moving Target: Anthropological Models and Methods in an Age of Unprecedented Climate Change.” Experienced researchers and practitioners will show how their work engages their research communities in collaboration, consultation and public debate about how to address global climate change locally. The Society for Visual Anthropology’s 2008 lineup includes a diverse and engaging range of papers, screenings and special events. Highlights include the Annual Film, Video and Interactive Media Festival, which received a record number of contributions and promises to be one of the best programs to date. The Society for the Anthropology of North America will present “New States of War and Policing,” which will focus on the relationship between war-making, states and policing, and probe their convergence in the current global war on terror. The Society for Urban, National, and Transnational/Global Anthropology and Society for the Anthropology of Work will co-sponsor “Locating Labor: Anthropologists Engage Service Worker Struggles.” David Bacon, labor photojournalist and author, will put the actions of the San Francisco hotel strike into the context of transnational labor politics and help us delineate an ethnology of labor struggles. The newly formed Society for Anthropological Sciences will sponsor its first AAA sessions, which will highlight various formal methods of collecting, analyzing and visualizing data from the field, in particular methods of cognitive anthropology and social network analysis. The Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists will co-sponsor, with the Executive Program Committee, a session titled “Anthropology and Transgender: Rethinking Inclusion, Collaboration and Engagement.” Trans and non-trans anthropologists, historians,lobbyists and community-based activists will constitute the exciting panel of speakers. “Rethinking Race, Biology and Genetics” is an Executive Program Committee session that promises to explore the difficult debate about the biology and social construction of race. Papers show a recognition that anthropology, despite its long engagement with the complex relationship of race, biology and genetics, has yet to formulate an effective and relevant response to the recent surge of public interest in, and misconceptions about, these concepts. “Multiple Indigenous Views of Anthropology’s Future: Envisioning a New Anthropology” is a Presidential Session that will focus on indigenous anthropologists, and their communities, who are engaging in a new, collaborative anthropology that is directed by, rather than directed at, their heritage. The complete programme may be found here: Visit the conference homepage here:

Van Engen, Abram. "Teaching Life, with Restraint." BOOKS AND CULTURE August 11, 2008.

Fish, Stanley. Save the World on Your Own Time. Oxford: OUP, 2008. In his latest work on higher education, Fish argues that academics need to leave their proselytizing behind. Professors are not in the business of urging politics or values. Their only job is to introduce students to bodies of knowledge and equip them with analytical skills. That's it. Teachers analyze; they do not advocate—not, at least, in the classroom. Coming from one of the premier postmodern theorists—someone who helped convince us that nothing is neutral—this position seems somewhat remarkable. In 1991, for example, Fish argued that religious people should accept no place in the academy because their firm beliefs were not open to a marketplace of ideas. George Marsden responded in The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship that "Christians and non-Christians can readily share basic standards of evidence and argument." The classroom is a context requiring certain forms of behavior and restraint: "in the very nature of human life," Marsden wrote, "we routinely move from one field of activity to another, each with its own set of rules." Fish, it seems, now agrees. In life, he writes, "we refrain … from inserting our religious beliefs or our private obsessions into every situation or conversation no matter what its content." The classroom, likewise, calls for restraint. It is not a place for partisan politics—even of the most bland and seemingly universal sort, like "tolerance." We do not teach tolerance, says Fish, we teach physics or poetry or psychology: bodies of knowledge, sets of skills. . . . Read the rest here:

Henderson, John. "Review of Lorna Hardwick, et al. BLACKWELL COMPANION TO CLASSICAL RECEPTIONS." BMCR (August 2008).

Hardwick, Lorna, and Christopher Stray, eds. Blackwell Companion to Classical Receptions. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

Contents: Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray. 'Introduction: Making Connections': 1-9 Ch. 1. Felix Budelmann and Johannes Haubold, 'Reception and Tradition': 13-25 Ch. 2. Barbara Graziosi, 'The Ancient Reception of Homer': 26-37 Ch. 3. Chris Emlyn-Jones, 'Poets on Socrates' Stage: Plato's Reception of Dramatic Art': 38-49 Ch. 4. Thomas Harrison, '"Respectable in its ruins": Achaemenid Persia, Ancient and Modern': 50-61 Ch. 5. Ruth Webb, 'Basil of Caesarea and Greek Tragedy': 62-71 Ch. 6. Seth L. Schein, '"Our Debt to Greece and Rome": Canons, Class and Ideology': 75-85 Ch. 7. David W. Bebbington, 'Gladstone on the Classics': 86-97 Ch. 8. Emily Greenwood, 'Between Colonialism and Independence: Eric Williams and the Uses of Classics in Trinidad in the 1950s and 1960s': 98-112 Ch. 9. Stephen Harrison, 'Virgilian Contexts': 113-26 Ch. 10. David Hopkins, 'Colonization, Closure or Creative Dialogue?: The Case of Pope's Iliad ': 129-40 Ch. 11. Ahmed Etman, 'Translation at the Intersection of Traditions: The Arab Reception of the Classics': 141-52 Ch. 12. J. Michael Walton, '"Enough Give in It": Translating the Classical Play': 153-67 Ch. 13. James Robson, 'Lost in Translation? The Problem of (Aristophanic) Humour': 168-82 Ch. 14. Cashman Kerr Prince, '"Making It New": André Gide's Rewriting of Myth': 185-94 Ch. 15. Vanda Zajko, '"What Difference Was Made?": Feminist Models of Reception': 195-206 Ch. 16. Miriam Leonard, 'History and Theory: Moses and Monotheism and the Historiography of the Repressed': 207-18 Ch. 17. Pantelis Michelakis, 'Performance Reception: Canonization and Periodization': 219-28 Ch. 18. Michael Ewans, 'Iphigénie en Tauride and Elektra: "Apolline" and "Dionysiac" Receptions of Greek Tragedy into Opera': 231-26 Ch. 19. Fiona Macintosh, 'Performance Histories': 247-58 Ch. 20. Angeliki Varakis, '"Body and Mask" in Performances of Classical Drama on the Modern Stage': 259-73 Ch. 21. Freddy Decreus, 'The Nomadic Theatre of the Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio: A Case of Postdramatic Reworking of the Classical Tragedy': 274-86 Ch. 22. Nurit Yaari, 'Aristophanes between Israelis and Palestinians': 287-300 Ch. 23. Joanna Paul, 'Working with Film: Theories and Methodologies': 303-14 Ch. 24. Hanna M. Roisman, 'The Odyssey from Homer to NBC: The Cyclops and the Gods': 315-26 Ch. 25. Marianne McDonald, 'A New Hope: Film as a Teaching Tool for the Classics': 327-41 Ch. 26. Catharine Edwards, 'Possessing Rome: The Politics of Ruins in Roma capitale': 345-59 Ch. 27. Gonda van Steen, '"You unleash the tempest of tragedy": The 1903 Athenian Production of Aeschylus' Oresteia': 360-72 Ch. 28. Betine van Zyl Smit, 'Multicultural Reception: Greek Drama in South Africa in the Late Twentieth and Early Twenty-first centuries': 373-85 Ch. 29. Edith Hall, 'Putting the Class into Classical Reception': 386-97 Ch. 30. Gregson Davis, 'Reframing the Homeric: Images of the Odyssey in the Art of Derek Walcott and Romare Bearden': 401-14 Ch. 31. Sarah Annes Brown, '"Plato's Stepchildren": SF and the Classics': 415-27 Ch. 32. Rosalind Hursthouse, 'Aristotle's Ethics, Old and New': 428-39 Ch. 33. Bryan E. Burns, 'Classicizing Bodies in the Male Photographic Tradition': 440-51 Ch. 34. Elizabeth Vandiver, 'Homer in British World War One Poetry': 452-65 Ch. 35. James I. Porter, 'Reception Studies: Future Prospects': 469-81

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Smith, Zadie. "E. M. Forster, Middle Manager." NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS August 14, 2008.

In the taxonomy of English writing, E.M. Forster is not an exotic creature. We file him under Notable English Novelist, common or garden variety. Still, there is a sense in which Forster was something of a rare bird. He was free of many vices commonly found in novelists of his generation—what's unusual about Forster is what he didn't do. He didn't lean rightward with the years, or allow nostalgia to morph into misanthropy; he never knelt for the Pope or the Queen, nor did he flirt (ideologically speaking) with Hitler, Stalin, or Mao; he never believed the novel was dead or the hills alive, continued to read contemporary fiction after the age of fifty, harbored no special hatred for the generation below or above him, did not come to feel that England had gone to hell in a hand-basket, that its language was doomed, that lunatics were running the asylum, or foreigners swamping the cities. Still, like all notable English novelists, he was a tricky bugger. He made a faith of personal sincerity and a career of disingenuousness. He was an Edwardian among Modernists, and yet—in matters of pacifism, class, education, and race—a progressive among conservatives. Suburban and parochial, his vistas stretched far into the East. A passionate defender of "Love, the beloved republic," he nevertheless persisted in keeping his own loves secret, long after the laws that had prohibited honesty were gone. Between the bold and the tame, the brave and the cowardly, the engaged and the complacent, Forster walked the middling line. . . . Read the rest here:



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Pinsky, Robert. "The American John Milton." SLATE MAGAZINE August 18, 2008.

Great art is great not because it enters an academic curriculum, and neither is greatness affirmed by the awarding of prizes or titles. But great is not necessarily a vague term. It can indicate work that penetrates the shapes, feelings, ideas, and sounds of a culture, as in the cadences of speech. Sometimes that kind of penetration is so deep, so transforming, that it is nearly invisible, or barely acknowledged. W. E. B. Du Bois, the American essayist and political leader, begins the peroration of his great essay "On the Training of Black Men" with a sentence like a symphonic chord, fortissimo, compact, rousing: "I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not." This statement, and the paragraph it introduces, come at the climax of an argument against the idea of measured progress, associated with Booker T. Washington: first training a generation of freed slaves to be cooks and carpenters, then a generation of clerks, then artisans, and, finally, in four or five generations, doctors and judges and scholars. Du Bois, on the other side of this famous and crucial American argument, had emphasized individual qualities: "teach the workers to work and the thinkers to think; make carpenters of carpenters, and philosophers of philosophers, and fops of fools." . . . Read the rest here:

Friday, August 22, 2008

CFP: "Thinking through Rhetoric: Rhetoric, Cognition, and Culture," American Society for the History of Rhetoric, San Diego, November 20, 2009.

Human cognition and human culture, in their rich diversity and stunning complexity, are now the focus points for scholars representing a broad range of disciplines from neuroscience and evolutionary biology to rhetoric and literary studies. Historically, various cultural and/or scholarly conceptions of cognition – how the human minds come to know and understand – have had profound influence on rhetorical theory, the teaching of rhetoric, and rhetorical practice. Indeed, every practical or pedagogical rhetorical program has relied upon implicit or explicit notions of cognition, or what might be called "cultures of cognition." Furthermore, the ups and downs of the art of rhetoric's fortune have been more than once tied to theories of cognition, as in the oft-cited disrepute into which rhetoric fell in the Enlightenment due in part to Cartesian theories of cognition. Rhetoric's history, therefore, is closely related to the history of conceptions of cognition, and conceptions of cognition are closely related to culture. Today, both the science of cognition and the study of rhetoric represent dynamic intellectual fields, each with rich histories. This symposium considers these histories, as well as the present state of studies in these areas and their overlap. Conference Keynote Speaker: Thomas Habinek, University of Southern California. For further information, visit:

Raabe, Peter B. "Review of Sara Heinamaa, et al., eds. CONSCIOUSNESS." MOR August 12, 2008.

Heinämaa, Sara, Vili Lähteenmäki, and Pauliina Remes, eds. Consciousness: from Perception to Reflection in the History of Philosophy. Dordrecht: Springer, 2007. The fourteen essays collected in this book discuss the similarities and dissimilarities in the concepts related to consciousness from ancient to medieval, Enlightenment and nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy. As the title suggests the history of consciousness is documented roughly from when it was thought to be the recognition of one's own awareness of one's perceptions of external objects, to when it was seen as a more internal, reflective activity of mind not necessarily involving any external objects of attention, and finally to when it was and is seen as a more esoteric mode of being human or human being. This book doesn't deal exclusively with consciousness as such. Much of it is devoted to the historical run up to, and philosophical precursors to, what we today call consciousness. The early chapters deal with how the writings of many of the early philosophers--among them Plato, Aristotle, Avicenna, Scotus, Ockham, Augustine, Descartes, and Spinoza--discuss the human mind. The authors point out how the ancient and early modern philosophers did indeed touch on many of the problems associated with mental states despite the fact that they didn't have an established vocabulary for that 'thing' we today call consciousness. (I use the simple word 'thing' to refer to consciousness strictly as a convenience because one of the main issues in this book is the fact that philosophers, both in the past and present, disagree as to exactly what sort of term is correct when referring to consciousness.) These authors do a good job of explaining where the word 'consciousness' might have been applied if those early philosophers had been in possession of the concept of consciousness as a distinct 'property' of the human mind or 'aspect' of personhood, and if they had had the use of both our modern insights and vocabulary necessary for its discussion. But I found reading the first two thirds of this book somewhat tangential because it seemed to me that the authors were discussing consciousness from the position of 'what might have been' if only those early philosophers had been aware of this or that perspective on the human mind--which we now are. It was like reading book reviews about books that were never written but could have been, if only. In my opinion the title of the book Consciousness accurately represents only the essays from chapter ten onwards. The first two thirds of the book would be better titled "The Early History of the Concept of Mind." But having said that, I'm sure the first nine chapters will be of interest to historians of philosophy. . . . Read the rest here:

Pilotti, Maura. "Review of George Lakoff's THE POLITICAL MIND." MOR August 5, 2008.

Lakoff, George. The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain. New York: Viking, 2008. George Lakoff is a cognitive scientist who, for quite some time, has applied to politics his knowledge of how the human brain/mind processes information. The enlightening results of this undertaking are evident in his latest book: The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st –Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain. In it, Lakoff examines the functioning of the human brain/mind with the purpose of identifying the relationship between the format in which ideas, mostly involving public policy, are presented and their reception by the different constituencies of public opinion (i.e., us). He focuses on frames, pre-existing knowledge structures that absorb, transform, and attribute value to incoming information. The influence of frames on information processing is also prominently featured in his earlier work devoted to the American political process (e.g., Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think; Don't Think of an Elephant). Yet, in The Political Mind, Lakoff's treatment of the role that frames play in the functioning of the human brain/mind and thus of their impact on the political process is more complete, although no less insightful and direct. Lakoff's examination of the political process is well-argued because it not only relies on evidence collected by means of the scientific method but also is guided by the scientific method in his applications of the evidence to politics. In his exploration of the functioning of the brain/mind, Lakoff starts with two key premises: First, he reminds readers that rational thoughts and emotions are inextricably linked in the cognitive frames upon which voters rely to understand politics and to guide their behavior when in the voting booth. Second, he emphasizes that most of the information processing that human beings conduct is unconscious and that even its outcomes (e.g., the understanding of specific issues) are not entirely comprehended by those who engaged in such processing. The latter premise, he recognizes, leads to an apparently unsolvable conundrum. Namely, how can individuals be in command of processes and outcomes that are beyond their awareness? Are human beings destined to be the victims of their own frames as if they were vessels, which, during a tempest, become unable to determine the direction of their travel? Lakoff forcefully argues that the first and most crucial step for controlling cognitive operations and their outcomes is knowledge of how these operations are performed in relation to existing cognitive frames. He reminds us that the adult brain/mind is not an empty container but rather a collection of receptacles (i.e., frames) filled and shaped by early experiences. Thus, he recommends that the information that one has processed be deconstructed in relation to the frames that have been unconsciously applied to the information when it was first encountered. The goal, moral and commendable, is to ensure that the issues are fairly understood and that rational and equitable solutions are adopted. But what does one do if an issue is novel and there does not appear to be a pre-existing frame for it? Lakoff argues that a frame should be created for it so that the above-mentioned goal can be reached. An example of this possibility is provided by the section devoted to "privateering", the ongoing, widespread practice of privatizing the essential functions of government, which, by blending "privatization" and "profiteering", renders government powerless, unable to perform even the most basic function of protecting its citizens (See the American government's response in the aftermath of Katrina and the role of private contractors in foreign wars). . . . Read the whole review here:

Jahoda, Gustav. "Review of Ian Parker's REVOLUTION IN PSYCHOLOGY." MOR August 5, 2008.

Parker, Ian. Revolution in Psychology: Alienation to Emancipation. London: Pluto, 2007. The author is a professor of psychology, though what he professes is light-years away from the conventional approaches, since he regards current psychology as 'mostly useless and sometimes dangerous'. A few years ago he gave a talk in which he suggested that it is so bad that only Marxism can save it. From the fact that he is anti-Stalinism one can infer that his Marxism is probably of the Trotskyite variety. He is extremely well read in the psychological literature, though there is no indication that he has done any empirical research. At this point readers of this review may well conclude that this book is not for them, but that would be a mistake. Parker views psychology through a red filter, and his unusual panorama is presented with force and clarity, supported by an impressive display of scholarship -- the bibliography extends over 35 pages. Parker's fundamental thesis is that present-day western psychology is tool of capitalist society and as such a means of control and oppression. All the well-known slogans are rolled out: ideology, alienation, false consciousness, class struggle, and so on. Some of these are helpfully explained. For instance he says that When Marxists talk about 'false consciousness' they do not mean that individuals are making some kind of cognitive errors, mistakes in their reasoning. It is rather that people are making conscious choices based on life conditions that are 'false' and every false option available to them serves to confirm their alienation and sense that nothing can be done to change these conditions. His objective is to bring about social change, and current psychology stands in the way. Apart from Marxism, another ideology he favors is that of feminism, which is also against the status quo. One is led on a wide-ranging travel through the landscape of conventional psychology in its various forms, theoretical and applied, such as cognitive, developmental, social, educational clinical, etc., and shown how it is misguided, pointless, or actually damaging from his standpoint. He dislikes some more than others, and social psychology is his particular bête noire; he concedes that early American social psychologists were politically on the left, but that was long ago. Social psychology now 'churns out some of the most stupid research'. With few exceptions (e.g. when comparing Piaget and Vygotsky), he gets his main facts right and only his interpretations are, to say the least, debatable. Read the whole review here:

Ouma, Steve Odero, and Aakash Singh. "Review of Mary-Jo Delvecchio, et al., eds. POSTCOLONIAL DISORDERS." MOR August 5, 2008.

Delvecchio, Mary-Jo, Sandra Teresa Hyde, Sarah Pinto, and Byron Good, eds. Postcolonial Disorders. Berkeley: U of California P, 2007. The overarching thesis, as articulated in the Editors' Introduction, is that colonialism had a distortive effect on the psyche of the colonized and that this distortion continues to manifest itself in the lives of individuals in the postcolonial world. The Editors begin by defining three key terms: subjectivity, disorders, and postcolonial. The definition of subjectivity provided is curious, however, especially given that it is the focus of the book as a whole. Although the scope of the meaning of subjectivity is at first limited to the quality of being an individual subject of a postcolony, as soon as the reader reaches the first chapter, she finds that the state is also a subject. The focus thus shifts from individual subjectivity to the subjectivity of polities, but the transition is made without the help of the copious traditional scholarly material on the topic. Quite the contrary, reference is made to the deficiencies of the literature on subjectivity, from Foucault's archaeology of the modern subject, through Lacanian analyses of political subjectivity and gender, to Judith Butler's linking of subjectivity and subjection. The irony of such an exercise is that the works referred to are theoretico-philosophical in nature and thus ought not to be measured against the essays in this book, which purport to be ethnographic instead. The term disorders puns on the clinical or psychiatric sense of a malady, as well as referring to the contradiction between the 'order' imposed throughout the colonial experience and that which has prevailed in the postcolonial era. All the authors included in the volume seem to agree on a fundamental axiom, that the contemporary postcolonial situation has been profoundly and determinatively impacted by the colonial regime, which may be characterized by violence, subjugation, appropriation, exploitation, marginalization, and so on. Thus, disorders are to be expected, and postcolonial, then, naturally gets defined in terms of traumatic memory and imposed institutional structures. . . . Read the whole review here:

Jeffery, Andrew V. "Review of George Levine's DARWIN LOVES YOU." MOR August 19, 2008.

Levine, George. Darwin Loves You: Natural Selection and the Re-enchantment of the World. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2006. One of the great challenges confronting the modern philosopher is the preservation of meaning and value in the "disenchanted" world described by science: a world apparently bereft of teleology and supernatural transcendence. Probably no scientist's re-description of the world is more frequently cited as a source of this disenchantment than that of Charles Darwin. It is Weber's version of this "disenchantment narrative" that George Levine has taken as his foil in Darwin Loves You, and it is Darwin that Levine seeks to vindicate. Levine's principle theme is that one can find in Darwin's life and writings a model for 'secular enchantment,' a way of seeing the world that, while thoroughly naturalistic, "finds in nonhuman nature the energy, diversity, beauty, intelligence, and sensibility that might provide a world-friendly alternative to otherworldly values" (xv). . . . Read the rest here:

Third Biennial Summer Institute, Rhetoric Society of America, Pennsylvania State University, June 22-28, 2009.

The Institute again includes two components: two five-day Seminars (running Monday, 6/22, through Friday morning, 6/26); and twenty two-day Workshops (running Friday afternoon, 6/26, through Sunday morning, 6/28). Participants may choose to attend either a seminar or a workshop or both. At lunch on Friday, there will be a plenary talk by Stephen Browne, scheduled to accommodate both seminarians and workshoppers, and some meals and receptions are (tentatively) included in the fee. Seminars are focused on offering graduate students and early career professors advanced study in foundational areas of rhetoric for purposes of pedagogy and research. Workshops function as "special-interest" groups within subfields of rhetoric and are meant to cover common topics of interest within those subfields. The two five-day Seminars offered in 2009 will focus on Rhetorical Criticism, led by Michael Leff (Memphis) and Alisse Portnoy (Michigan); and Visual Rhetoric, led by Robert Hariman (Northwestern) and John Lucaites (Indiana). Each of these seminars has a capacity of 25 participants. The two-day Workshops, which typically enroll between five and eighteen participants, depending on the topic, cover a rich range of rhetorical subfields. In 2009, the Institute has tentatively arranged to offer the following workshops:
  • Rhetoric, Nationalism, and Post-Nationalism - Vanessa Beasley (Vanderbilt)
  • Women, Religious Persuasion, and Social Activism in America 1780-1940 - Patricia Bizzell (College of Holy Cross), Jane Donawerth (Maryland), Shirley Wilson Logan (Maryland), and Roxanne Mountford (Kentucky)
  • Women, Rhetoric, and Political Agency - Karlyn Kohrs Campbell (Minnesota), Mari Boor Tonn (Maryland), and Justin Killian (Minnesota)
  • Toward a Rhetoric of Multilingual Writing - A. Suresh Canagarajah (Penn State), Maria Jerskey (La Guardia College), Jay Jordan (Utah), and Xiaoye You (Penn State)
  • Rhetoric, Public Scholarship, and Democratic Activism: Re-inventing Politics after Neo-Liberalism - Rosa Eberly (Penn State) and Dana Cloud (Texas)
  • Rhetoric and Performance Studies - Jenn Fishman (Tennessee)
  • A Career Bootcamp for Associate Professors - Cheryl Geisler (RPI)
  • Rhetoric and Race - Keith Gilyard (Penn State) and Victor Villanueva (Washington State)
  • Visualizing Patterns of Group Communication in Digital Workspaces - William Hart-Davidson (Michigan State); Clay Spinuzzi (Texas); and Mark Zachry (University of Washington)
  • History Matters: Materials and Methods for Scholarship in the History of Rhetoric - Debra Hawhee (Illinois) and Richard Graff (Minnesota)
  • Discourse Analysis for Rhetorical Studies - Barbara Johnstone (Carnegie Mellon) and Christopher Eisenhart (UMass Dartmouth)
  • Queering Rhetorical Studies - Charles Morris (Boston U)
  • Voices of Democracy - U.S. Public Oratory, Democracy, and the Humanities Undergraduate Classroom - Shawn Parry-Giles (Maryland), Michael Hogan (Penn State), and Robert Gaines (Maryland)
  • Rhetoric and Globalization (International Rhetoric) - Andrea Ritivoi (Carnegie Mellon)
  • Understanding Kenneth Burke through His Archives - Jack Selzer (Penn State), Ann George (Texas Christian), and David Tell (Kansas)
  • Rhetoric, Public Memory, and Forgetting - Bradford Vivian (Syracuse) and Carole Blair (North Carolina)
  • Medical Rhetoric: Ethical Issues, Archival Concepts, and Imaginative Writing - Susan Wells (Temple) and Ellen Barton (Wayne State)
  • Science and its Publics - James Wynn (Carnegie Mellon) and Lisa Keranen (Colorado)
  • Rhetoric and Religion - Susan Zaeske (Wisconsin) and Rob Howard (Wisconsin)
  • Reading Lincoln's Rhetoric - David Zarefsky (Northwestern)

This list is tentative and subject to change. Complete information, including registration fees, will be posted in September, along with directions for applying for Seminars and Workshops. The final costs are still being negotiated, but it is anticipated that the fee for a Seminar will be about $425 (for RSA members) and for the Workshops in the $225 range (for RSA members). Non-member rates will be slightly higher. It is anticipated that some partial scholarships to help graduate students to attend will be available. Housing will be in addition to the fee.

Program Organizers:

  • Shawn Parry-Giles, University of Maryland, Co-Planner, RSA 2009 Institute
  • David Kaufer, Carnegie Mellon, Co-Planner, RSA 2009 Institute
  • Jeremy Engels, Penn State University Local Arrangements Chair

CFP: "150 Year of Evolution – Darwin's Impact on the Humanities and Social Sciences," San Diego State University November 20-22, 2009.

Researchers and scholars from all disciplines are invited to submit papers addressing the impact of Darwin's ideas in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Both disciplinary-specific and broadly interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. Papers accepted for the symposium will be included in a volume to be published by San Diego State University Press. Please submit abstracts of no more that 500 words in length to no later than 30 November 2008. Accepted papers must be completed by the date of the symposium to be included in the published proceedings. Accepted papers will be announced 1 February 2009. For more information, contact: Mark Wheeler, Symposium ChairDepartment of Philosophy, SDSU(619) 594-6706 or by email:

Ashworth, E. Jennifer. "Review of James Hankins, ed. CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO RENAISSANCE PHILOSOPHY." NDPR (August 2008).

Hankins, James, ed. Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Philosophy. Cambridge: CUP, 2007. The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Philosophy offers two challenges. The first concerns the very nature of philosophy: is it moral formation, esoteric wisdom, cosmological speculation, or, more prosaically, an academic discipline using logical tools to discuss metaphysical and epistemological issues? The second concerns our mistaken views of the Renaissance: was it a period in which Plato and the new philosophers of nature triumphed over medieval Aristotelian obscurantism, or was it "a swampland inhabited," among others, "by wild-eyed magicians and Naturphilosophen, as fertile in propagating new ideas as they were incapable of defending them" (p. 339)? The answer to the second question turns out to be, "on the whole, neither"; the answer to the first question is left as an exercise for the reader. With this welcome addition to its series of companions to philosophy, the Cambridge University Press continues its service to those interested in the lengthy period from the mid-fourteenth century to the early seventeenth century. The press has already produced the Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy (1988) and the monumental Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy (1998), but these are aimed at a scholarly readership, and there has been little to attract students and non-specialists. It is true that the series of Cambridge companions to literature includes the Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Humanism (1996), several chapters of which pertain to philosophy, but the philosophy series up to now had a conspicuous gap between the companion to William of Ockham (d. 1347) and the companion to Thomas Hobbes (b. 1588). In his attempt to fill this gap of two and a half centuries, the editor, James Hankins, faced a massive challenge. He had to come to grips not only with the multiplicity of schools and movements to be covered, but with the impact of various historical developments including the invention of printing, the rediscovery of ancient works, the European discovery of the Americas and the first voyages to China and Japan, the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and changes in educational systems. Moreover, he had to strike a balance between providing the reader with necessary background information, introducing the reader to individual thinkers, and giving a general overview without getting swamped in details. At the same time, he had to ensure that the presentation of the material would appeal not only to intellectual historians but also to contemporary philosophers. Hankins tackled all these problems with considerable, if varying, success. The book has sixteen contributors, including Hankins himself, and, leaving aside Hankins' substantial introduction and conclusion, the remaining sixteen chapters fall roughly into three groups. Four chapters are designed to place Renaissance thought and thinkers into their historical context. Two of the most readable chapters in the book belong in this first category. Peter Harrison examines the impact of Protestantism on philosophy, with respect to such notions as justification, personal autonomy, and the status of moral law. Ann M. Blair provides many fascinating details about the organization of knowledge, from the writing of history to the provision of library catalogues and collections of natural specimens. In addition, Robert Black discusses the philosopher's place in Renaissance culture, and Hankins provides a useful overview of early humanism and scholasticism which concludes with a study of Petrarch. The second group of five chapters falls under the heading "Continuity and Revival." Luca Bianchi, Christopher S. Celenza and Jill Kraye provide useful, clear accounts of developments in the Aristotelian tradition, and of the revivals of Platonic and Hellenistic philosophy, while Dag Nikolaus Hasse offers a very informative study of the impact of Arabic philosophy. He adds a noteworthy appendix (pp. 134-136) which lists Renaissance Latin translations of Arabic philosophy from 1450 to 1700. The section concludes with an illustrated chapter on magic by Brian P. Copenhaver which is entirely devoted to Marsilio Ficino, without any mention of later authors such as Agrippa who also wrote influential works on magic and the occult. While this narrowing of the topic makes for enjoyable reading, it does not help the person who wants to know to what extent and why Renaissance thinkers were preoccupied with such matters. The third group of seven chapters falls under the heading "Toward Modern Philosophy" and is designed to provide the reader with an account of specifically Renaissance developments in philosophy. Instead of being organized around such familiar themes as epistemology, the mind-body problem, philosophy of science and so on, it combines some discussion of individual thinkers with focus on particular problems. . . . Read the rest here:

Hildebrand, David. "Review of Robert Talisse's A PRAGMATIST PHILOSOPHY OF DEMOCRACY." NDPR (August 2008).

Talisse, Robert B. A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy. London: Routledge, 2007. A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy comprises an epilogue, preface, and six main chapters. Preface and epilogue offer Talisse's motivations. These frame the book and Talisse uses them to explicate the "pragmatist roots and motivations" (vii) of democracy he first offered in his recent Democracy After Liberalism. He also intends to expose (and shame) contemporary pragmatists who, Talisse claims, promulgate "conspiracy stories" about an "eclipse" of classical pragmatism (CP). Such stories are pernicious for cultivating "attitudes, habits, and scholarly practices" that foster "resentment" and "a regrettable and ultimately self-defeating intellectual insularity." (134) Chapter 1, "Pragmatism's Ambiguous Legacy," provides an acerbic potted history of how contemporary CPs have positioned themselves as "inheritors and stewards" of this tradition -- typically by contesting Richard Rorty's excesses or lamenting analytic philosophy's impoverished ambitions. Pace these pragmatists, however, Talisse claims, there is no such unified thing as CP, and he justifies this by pointing to deep differences between Charles S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. (Of particular portent here is Talisse's sense in Peirce of a distinctly "minimalist" view of inquiry; this interpretation provides the ground for his development, later, of a new pragmatist democracy.) "Can Democracy be a Way of Life?" (Chapter 2) elaborates on how Dewey and Peirce were significantly different, arguing that Deweyan democracy constitutes what John Rawls called a "comprehensive doctrine." Because any such doctrine must exclude other comprehensive (but nevertheless reasonable) views, Dewey's democracy proves self-refuting: since it is oppressive to pluralism it fatally contradicts Dewey's core democratic values. Chapter 3, "Peirce, Inquiry, and Politics," and chapter 4, "Pluralism and the Peircean View," ground an alternative pragmatist approach found in Peirce's two famous pragmatist papers. Those works, Talisse claims, show how Peirce's advocacy for the "method of science" already reveals his epistemic preference for certain basic political arrangements; they also provide an account of inquiry "thin" enough to both serve democratic theory and still be unobjectionable to all rational comers. This theory would be more than just procedural because it does promote a way of life; but its substance would be "thin" because its prescriptions align with what is already immanent in our best practices. Thus, this Peircean view avoids the problems with pluralism which doom Dewey. With the central argument made, chapter 5, "Posner's Pragmatic Realism," further ratifies the Peircean view by demonstrating its superiority to another contemporary pragmatist view by Richard Posner. Finally, chapter 6, "The Case of Sidney Hook," presents Talisse's interpretation of Hook's theory and practice. By highlighting Hook's under-appreciated Peircean affinities, Talisse aims to show why Hook deserves greater consideration as a first-rate philosopher of democracy. . . . Read the whole review here:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Deibert, Michael. "Review of Peter Hallward's DAMMING THE FLOOD." MICHAEL DEIBERT, WRITER [blog] March 16, 2008.

Hallward, Peter. Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment. London: Verso, 2007. One of the major flaws of Hallward’s account becomes apparent early on and it is a major one for an undertaking of this nature: the book has no historical memory. In seeking at all costs to prove the author’s thesis of the essential uniqueness and saintliness of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas political party, Hallward ignores the inescapable fact that Aristide and Lavalas did not come out of a vacuum, but rather represented simply the latest manifestation by which bright, ambitious political leaders sought to harness the popular discontent at the criminal poverty that Haiti’s poor majority is forced to exist in on a daily basis. It is a discontent that had been harnessed with varying degrees of effectiveness in the late 19th century by Lysius Salomon, and in the mid-late 20th century by Dumarsais Estimé and François Duvalier (both of whom made it to the presidency), as well as by more marginal figures such as Daniel Fignole, the Port-au-Prince political leader who oratory was so skillful at whipping his slum-based followers into a frenzy that they became know as his rouleau compresseur (steamroller). . . . Read the rest here:

Zizek, Slavoj. "Democracy versus the People." NEW STATESMAN August 14, 2008.

Hallward, Peter. Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment. London: Verso, 2007. Noam Chomsky once noted that "it is only when the threat of popular participation is overcome that democratic forms can be safely contemplated". He thereby pointed at the "passivising" core of parliamentary democracy, which makes it incompatible with the direct political self- organisation and self-empowerment of the people. Direct colonial aggression or military assault are not the only ways of pacifying a "hostile" population: so long as they are backed up by sufficient levels of coercive force, international "stabilisation" missions can overcome the threat of popular participation through the apparently less abrasive tactics of "democracy promotion", "humanitarian intervention" and the "protection of human rights". This is what makes the case of Haiti so exemplary. As Peter Hallward writes in Damming the Flood, a detailed account of the "democratic containment" of Haiti's radical politics in the past two decades, "never have the well-worn tactics of 'democracy promotion' been applied with more devastating effect than in Haiti between 2000 and 2004". One cannot miss the irony of the fact that the name of the emancipatory political movement which suffered this international pressure is Lavalas, or "flood" in Creole: it is the flood of the expropriated who overflow the gated communities that protect those who exploit them. This is why the title of Hallward's book is quite appropriate, inscribing the events in Haiti into the global tendency of new dams and walls that have been popping out everywhere since 11 September 2001, confronting us with the inner truth of "globalisation", the underlying lines of division which sustain it. . . . Read the whole review here:

Acocella, Joan. "The Forbidden World." NEW YORKER August 25, 2008.

Rowland, Ingrid. Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008. San Domenico was a conservative institution. It taught Scholastic philosophy—the world of Aristotle, revived and Catholicized by St. Thomas Aquinas and other scholars of the Middle Ages—as if no other philosophies existed. They did exist. From the early Renaissance onward, that world picture—limited, tidy, and comforting—had been challenged by a rebirth of the ideas of Plato, who had a very different slant on things: visionary, poetic. After Bruno’s Scholastic training at San Domenico, Rowland says, he encountered Neoplatonism, and it transformed his thinking. She gives this a lot of space. . . . She sees Neoplatonism as his beacon, but she is glad for him that, before he stuck his head up among the stars, his feet had been planted on the ground by Aristotle and Aquinas. That dichotomy becomes the basis of her portrait of Bruno. . . . Read the whole review here:

Willett, Graham. "Summa Sexologica." AUSTRALIAN REVIEW OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS (August 2008).

Weeks, Jeffrey. The World We Have Won: the Remaking of Erotic and Intimate Life. London: Routledge, 2007. It is hard to imagine that anyone anywhere in the West might seriously doubt that our erotic and intimate lives have been utterly transformed in the past half century, and transformed more thoroughly than in any comparable time period in our history. Who in 1945 imagined a female prime minister, same-sex marriage, public discussions of abortion and contraception? What is often disputed, though, is whether these changes have been for the better. There are three ways in which it can be argued that they have not. One is a conservative viewpoint. The decay, or sometimes ‘undermining’ or ‘abandonment’, of traditional forms of relationships is, for these observers, unambiguously a bad thing. To their general sensibility, which prefers things not to change, conservatives bring something of an argument: the traditional family form, and the sex-roles that are embedded in it, constitute the foundation of society; any change represents a falling away from the ways things ought to be, and a threat to the entire social order. For the most part, these conservatives are religiously inclined and locate their family form in the will of their gods and their holy books. For this mindset, there is no diversity, much less improvement; only a fall from grace. A world away in their motivating ideas, but remarkably close in the pessimism of their conclusions, are those various thinkers that tend to have their roots in the work of Michel Foucault and who are often lumped together as ‘postmodernists’. Here the changes that we have undergone—especially those which seem to indicate greater freedom and autonomy—are dismissed as superficial, concealing (except to the trained eye) the continuing dominance of Power. Self-regulation may have replaced regulation, but we are regulated nonetheless. And then there is the revolutionary left, which holds that capitalism requires the oppression of, among others, gay people and that any apparent improvement in the lives we live must be at best precarious and at worst illusory. Only the unresolved issues, or the latest outrages (the denial of same-sex marriage, for example) are real. Jeffrey Weeks, in his magisterial The World We Have Won, helps us to find our way through, around, between these various rocks and hard places, drawing upon his long history of engagement with the changing realities of everyday sexual life in the West. His work as a historian, sociologist, social researcher, activist, critic and writer underpins here a kind of Summa Sexologica—a survey of erotic and intimate life as it has been lived, debated and understood over the past 50 years. . . . Read the rest here:

Gordon, David. "Going Off the Rawls." THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE July 28, 2008.

Rawls’s stellar reputation stems mainly from one book. When he published A Theory of Justice in 1971, he awoke, like Byron, to find himself famous. Before that, Rawls was well known in philosophy departments as one of the brightest people working in ethics, but he had written only a few articles. People in the field knew he had been composing a major treatise, and when it finally appeared, most reviewers were ecstatic. Stuart Hampshire, writing in the New York Review of Books, called the book the most important work in moral philosophy since the end of World War II. . . . To understand Rawls’s theory, one first needs to grasp what he was reacting against. The dominant approach in pre-Rawls political philosophy was utilitarianism: how can we maximize the satisfaction of people’s preferences? At first sight, utilitarianism seems plausible—what else should we do but try to achieve the most satisfaction possible for everyone?—but the theory has some odd consequences. Why, for example, is rape wrong? A utilitarian would have to answer that the pain to the victim outweighs the pleasure to the rapist. Surely, though, this is not why rape is wrong; the pleasure the rapist gets shouldn’t be counted at all, and the whole thing sounds ridiculous. (By the way, Judge Richard Posner, who might be called Jeremy Bentham redivivus, accepts just this view of rape in his Sex and Reason.) As Rawls pointed out, there is a more general problem that throws utilitarianism into question. Some people’s interests, or even lives, can be sacrificed if doing so will maximize total satisfaction. Suppose executing the Danish cartoonists will appease a Muslim mob, and that doing so increases total satisfaction. A utilitarian would have to endorse the execution. As Rawls says, “there is a sense in which classical utilitarianism fails to take seriously the distinction between persons.” . . . He offers an ingenious substitute for utilitarianism. Instead of directly advancing a theory of his own, Rawls asks what we can do when faced with the fact that people do not agree on a common conception of the good. He answers that even if people do not agree on the good, they can accept a fair procedure for settling what the principles of justice should be. This is key to Rawls’s theory: whatever arises from a fair procedure is just. But what is a fair procedure? Get the answer here:

CFP: 12th Annual Conference, Association of the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, Law School, Suffolk University, April 3-4, 2009.

The Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities is an organization of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary, humanistically oriented legal scholarship. The Association brings together a wide range of people engaged in scholarship on legal history, legal theory and jurisprudence, law and cultural studies, law and literature, law and the performing arts, and legal hermeneutics. We want to encourage dialogue across and among these fields about issues of interpretation, identity, and values, about authority, obligation, and justice, and about law's place in culture. We will be accepting proposals for panels, papers, and volunteers for chairs and discussants from July 1st until October 15th 2008. We welcome submissions on any law, culture and humanities subject. Examples of panel topics from our last conference include: Imagining Rights in the Era of Globalization; The Child as a Legal Subject; Law and Love; The Color of Justice; The Cultural Lives of the Judiciary; Law and the Sacred; E.M. Forster and the Question of Social Justice; Thinking about Places and Spaces; Feminism v. Feminism: Conceptions of Justice in Transnational Criminal Law; South African Dignity Jurisprudence; Film as Legal Text; Event, Rebellion, and Constitution: Political Imagination and Resistant Sovereignties in the Americas, 1615-2005. We invite scholars with interests across the range of areas in Law, Culture and the Humanities to organize panels, performance pieces, screenings, or to submit proposals for individual paper presentations. The full Call for Papers is here: Conference Registration: The on-line registration site for this year's ASLCH is now online. To register, go to: Registration Fees: The 2009 Conference Registration fees are as follows: Graduate students = $35 Annual income less than $70,000 = $75 Annual income $70,000-$100,000 = $125 Annual income over $100,000 = $200 Those who have not pre-registered may REGISTER ON-SITE at the conference. Further information, not least on the submission of proposals, is available at the association website:

Alznauer, Mark. "Review of Allen Speight's THE PHILOSOPHY OF HEGEL." NDPR (August 2008).

Speight, Allen. The Philosophy of Hegel. Chesham: Acumen, 2008. The late Brand Blanshard, a philosopher by no means unsympathetic to Hegelian thought, devised a system to rank clarity in writing which he illustrated with the following example: "Swift, Macaulay, and Shaw would say that André was hanged. Bradley would say that he was killed. Bosanquet would say that he died. Kant would say that his mortal existence reached its termination. Hegel would say that a finite determination of infinity had been further determined by its own negation" (On Philosophical Style, Indiana University Press, 1954, p. 31). Only someone entirely unfamiliar with Hegel's prose could mistake this for an unfair exaggeration. Given Hegel's notorious obscurity, both substantive and stylistic, some sort of general introduction to his philosophic thought is almost indispensable. At present, the interested reader is faced with an array of options, to which Allen Speight's The Philosophy of Hegel is the most recent addition. Speight himself mentions several other contemporary introductions to Hegel, including Peter Singer's A Very Short Introduction to Hegel and longer works by accomplished Hegel scholars like Frederick Beiser and Stephen Houlgate. Still others, like David James' Hegel: A Guide for the Perplexed, appear to have been published in the meantime. Like those by Singer and James, Speight's book is a short read and comes as part of a series of commissioned works on major philosophers -- in this case, Acumen's Continental European Philosophy series. With so much of quality already to choose from, one might suspect that another introduction to Hegel would be superfluous. But Speight's book sets itself apart in an ingenious way by proceeding with an unusually self-conscious attention to its own place within the existing literature on Hegel. Rather than offering a standard overview of the basics of Hegelian thought, or giving a controversial interpretation of Hegel that would need more defense than the space a short book would allow, Speight focuses on those passages and themes which have loomed large in the reception history of Hegelian philosophy, deftly identifying rival interpretations and occasionally pointing to possible directions for future scholarship. Instead of providing a didactic summary, he has chosen to introduce the reader to the vigorous, ongoing conversation about Hegel that has continued, almost without interruption, since his death in 1831. . . . Read the rest here:

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bronner, Ethan. "Under ‘Kafkaesque’ Pressure, Heir to Kafka Papers May Yield Them." NEW YORK TIMES August 17, 2008.

Franz Kafka’s final wish before his death in 1924 — that his papers be burned — was famously defied by his friend, the writer Max Brod. The world got “The Trial,” “The Castle” and the adjective Kafkaesque; Mr. Brod got the papers. When Mr. Brod fled to Tel Aviv from Prague on the last train out in 1939 as the Nazis rolled in, he had with him a suitcase full of Kafka’s documents. Here, he took up with his secretary, and when he died in 1968, he bequeathed to her the remaining Kafka papers, as well as his own from a rich cultural career. For nearly 40 years, the secretary, Esther Hoffe, held the world of Kafka scholarship on tenterhooks, keeping the documents in her ground-floor apartment on Spinoza Street, some of them piled high on her desk (it was originally Mr. Brod’s), where she typed all day and took her meals. The last time a scholar was permitted into the apartment was in the 1980s. Later, Ms. Hoffe sold the manuscript for “The Trial” for $2 million. No one knows what remains. Since her death last year at age 101, her 74-year-old daughter, Hava, has indicated that a decision about the coveted papers will be made in the coming months. While most of the Kafka estate is already in archives in the Czech Republic, Britain and Germany, some may still be inside the scuffed front door of the Hoffe apartment. . . . Read the rest here:

"Recognition and Work," Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Maquarie University, October 15-17, 2007.

A central thesis of Axel Honneth’s influential book, The Struggle for Recognition, is that social conflicts have a moral dimension on account of the struggles for recognition they involve. The idea that particular groups or cultures may be owed recognition, and that states act unjustly when they deny the recognition that is due, has been at the heart of recent debates in political philosophy. The role that recognition might have in other contexts of social conflict has been less widely discussed. On the other hand, there is now a considerable body of sociological, economic and psychological literature to suggest that contexts of work have undergone a profound transformation, bringing with it new potentials for conflict, new expressions of discontent and a veritable ‘transvaluation of values’ traditionally associated with work. What can the theory of recognition tell us about these phenomena? And what implications does work - in its full anthropological and moral significance - have for the structure of theories of recognition? This recent conference brought together philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and economists to explore the complex relations between recognition and work. Visit the conference homepage here: Audio recordings are now online here:

Lennox, John. "Why Not Every Scientist Worships at Darwin's Feet." SYDNEY MORNING HERALD August 18, 2008.

The leading atheist Richard Dawkins, speaking of this God delusion, as he calls it, offers a succinct summary of Darwin's theory. "Given sufficient time, the non-random survival of hereditary entities . . . will generate complexity, diversity, beauty, and an illusion of design so persuasive that it is almost impossible to distinguish from deliberate intelligent design." The power of evolution to simulate the illusion of design, says Dawkins, is threatening to what he suggestively calls a "certain kind of mind". Mostly he means unscientific, naive or stupid. But things aren't so simple. Scattered among the world's top scientists are those who do believe in a conscious intention behind nature's processes. I think of people such as Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project, and Professor Bill Phillips, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997. The presence of such people poses awkward questions for the view that evolutionary theory and a sophisticated scientific brain lead inexorably towards atheism. There must be more to the so-called "science versus God" story than this. . . . Read teh rest here:

Dennett, Daniel. "Daniel Dennett's Darwinian Mind: an Interview with a 'Dangerous' Man [with Chris Floyd]." SCIENCE AND SPIRIT (2008).

In matters of the mind—the exploration of consciousness, its correlation with the body, its evolutionary foundations, and the possibilities of its creation through computer technology—few voices today speak as boldly as that of philosopher Daniel Dennett. His best-selling works—among them Consciousness Explained and Darwin’s Dangerous Idea—have provoked fierce debates with their rigorous arguments, eloquent polemic and witty, no-holds-barred approach to intellectual combat. He is often ranked alongside Richard Dawkins as one of the most powerful—and, in some circles, feared—proponents of thorough-going Darwinism. Dennett has famously called Darwinism a "universal acid," cutting through every aspect of science, culture, religion, art and human thought. "The question is," he writes in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, "what does it leave behind? I have tried to show that once it passes through everything, we are left with stronger, sounder versions of our most important ideas. Some of the traditional details perish, and some of these are losses to be regretted, but . . . what remains is more than enough to build on." Consciousness has arisen from the unwilled, unordained algorithmic processes of natural selection, says Dennett, whose work delivers a strong, extensive attack on the "argument from design" or the "anthropic principle." But a world without a Creator or an "Ultimate Meaning" is not a world without creation or meaning, he insists. When viewed through the solvent of Darwinism, he writes, "the ‘miracles’ of life and consciousness turn out to be even better than we imagined back when we were sure they were inexplicable." Dennett’s prominence does not rest solely on his high public profile in the scientific controversies of our day; it is also based on a large body of academic work dealing with various aspects of the mind, stretching back almost 40 years. Dennett has long been associated with Tufts University, where he is now Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies. Boston-born, Oxford-educated, he now divides his time between North Andover, Massachusetts, and his farm in Maine, where he grows hay and blueberries, and makes cider wine. . . . Read the rest here:

Czarnecki, Mark. "The Other Darwin." WALRUS MAGAZINE (September 2008).

Darwin’s time has come again. Heralded by new biographies and editions of his works, a dual anniversary looms: 2009 will mark 200 years since his birth, and 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Like Marx and Freud, the other towering nineteenth-century humanists whose names are dropped in the same breath as his, he embedded in our world view fundamental concepts that once embraced will not let go. But unlike the variants of Marxist and Freudian thought that have launched a thousand experiments (not all seaworthy), evolution is accepted as fact, not theory, at least as far as biology is concerned. And with biology brought to heel, evolutionists have been hard at work figuring out how and why humans behave and think the way they do, both as individuals and as societies. . . . Read the rest here:

Weber, Bruce. "Review of Michael Ruse's CHARLES DARWIN." NDPR (August 2008).

Ruse, Michael. Charles Darwin. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. Michael Ruse needs no introduction to anyone who has read about the philosophy of biology or the controversies surrounding Darwinism over the past three-and-a-half decades. Ruse, the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University, is the author of numerous books on the historical and philosophical aspects of Darwinism (which are characterized by lucid and lively prose) as well as the founding editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy. In Charles Darwin, a volume in the Blackwell Great Minds series, Ruse addresses Darwin's key insights about evolution as presented primarily in On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man and as they continue to inform the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis (aka neo-Darwinism), as well as their implications for epistemology, ethics, psychology, and religion. Although ostensibly focusing on Charles Darwin's thought, Ruse's real topic is Darwinism as a scientific research tradition and naturalistic worldview and how, as such, it deals with philosophical issues such as progress, purpose and apparent design, as well as the impact of professionalization on evolutionary discourse. These are subjects that Ruse has dealt with in greater detail and depth in a series of relatively recent books: Darwinism Defended, The Darwinian Paradigm, Monad to Man, Mystery of Mysteries, Evolutionary Naturalism, The Evolution Wars, Can a Darwinian be a Christian?, Darwin and Design, The Evolution-Creation Struggle, and Darwinism and it Discontents, as well as in volumes he has co-edited: Debating Design (with William Dembski) and most recently The Philosophy of Biology (with David Hull). These various strands of Ruse's study and thought are brought together here in a single, updated, moderate-length volume that addresses general, serious-minded readers, as well as students, who wish an introductory overview of Ruse's understanding of Darwinism. For information about Darwin himself such readers need to refer to the standard biographies of Janet Browne (1995, 2002) and of Adrian Desmond and James Moore (1991). Readers also could profitably pursue the analysis of Darwinism and its transformation into neo-Darwinism by reading the work of Timothy Shanahan (2004). . . . Read the rest here:

Hookway, Christopher. "Pragmatism." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY, August 16, 2008.

Pragmatism was a philosophical tradition that originated in the United States around 1870. The most important of the ‘classical pragmatists’ were Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), William James (1842–1910) and John Dewey (1859-1952). The influence of pragmatism declined during the first two thirds of the twentieth century, but it has undergone a revival since the 1970s with philosophers being increasingly willing to use the writings and ideas of the classical pragmatists, and also a number of thinkers, such as Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom developing philosophical views that represent later stages of the pragmatist tradition. The core of pragmatism was the pragmatist maxim, a rule for clarifying the contents of hypotheses by tracing their ‘practical consequences’. In the work of Peirce and James, the most influential application of the pragmatist maxim was to the concept of truth. But the pragmatists have also tended to share a distinctive epistemological outlook, a fallibilist anti-Cartesian approach to the norms that govern inquiry. Read the rest here:

"Justice, Culture and Tradition," Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, June 2-4, 2008.

This recent conference was devoted to the work of Michael Walzer. Programme: MONDAY, JUNE 2ND 9:45AM - 10:00AM Greeting Session IAS Director Peter Goddard and Conference Organizer Yitzhak Benbaji (Bar-Ilan University) 10:00AM - 12:15PM "Distributive Justice" Thomas Scanlon (Harvard University) Michael J. Sandel (Harvard University) Commentator Amy Gutmann (University of Pennsylvania) Chair Joan W.Scott (IAS) 2:00PM - 3:00PM "The Interpretive View of Ethics" Georgia Warnke (University of California) Commentator Susan Neiman (Einstein Forum) Chair Harry Frankfurt (Princeton University) 3:30PM - 6:00PM Round Table: "The Practice of Social Criticism" Mitchell Cohen (CUNY Baruch College) Martin Peretz (The New Republic) Menachem Lorberbaum (Tel Aviv University) Axel Honneth (Institut fur Sozialforschung) Chair Ian Shapiro (Yale University) TUESDAY, JUNE 3RD 10:00AM - 12:15PM "Multiculturalism, Civil Society, and the Politics of Recognition" Jacob T. Levy (McGill University) Will Kymlicka (Queen's University) Commentator Charles Taylor (McGill University) 2:00PM - 5:00PM Round Table: "The Just War Theory - Moral and Legal Perspectives" Yitzhak Benbaji (Bar-Ilan University) Jeff McMahan (Rutgers University) Brian Orend (University of Waterloo) Michael Doyle (Columbia University) Haim Shapira (Bar-Ilan University) Commentator Noam J. Zohar (Bar-Ilan University) Chair Joel Rosenthal (Carnegie Council) WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4TH 10:00AM - 12:15PM "Tradition, Radicalism and Solidarity" Avishai Margalit (Institute for Advanced Study) George Kateb (Princeton University) Commentator Moshe Halbertal (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) ChairYaffa Zilbershats (Bar-Ilan University) 2:00PM - 4:00PM "The Moral Standing of States" Ruth Gavison (The Hebrew University) Charles R. Beitz (Princeton University) Commentator Nancy L. Rosenblum (Harvard University) Chair Jacob T. Levy (McGill University) 4:30PM - 6:30PM Round Table: "The Jewish Political Tradition" Leon Wieseltier (The New Republic) David Novak (University of Toronto) Pierre Birnbaum (Columbia University Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies) Chair Noam J. Zohar (Bar-Ilan University) Further information may be found here:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kelly, Sean. "Review of David Woodruff Smith's HUSSERL." TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT April 25, 2008.

So what exactly is phenomenology, and what precisely does it have to offer? It is useful to return to Sartre. What excited him so much about the prospect of phenomenology, as we saw, is that it is devoted almost entirely to describing things. Indeed, description is so central to phenomenology in all of its phases that Heidegger could say, in one of his early lecture courses, that "the phrase descriptive phenomenology is, at bottom, tautological". Description stands in contrast to all the other things a philosopher might be doing when engaging philosophically with a given domain: causal explanation, rational reconstruction, transcendental argument, conceptual analysis, theory-building, and so on. The idea behind phenomenology is that simply describing the phenomena, as completely and accurately as possible and without importing into the description unwarranted presuppositions about how the domain described is or must be, is already a devilishly difficult project. And one can see why. If one has tacit presuppositions about what the phenomena of a given domain are like - as one is bound to with any sufficiently interesting domain - then learning to separate out the phenomena as they actually are from one's presuppositions about them will require a certain kind of discipline. The commitment to this discipline was implicit in the famous battle cry of the phenomenologists: "Zu den Sachen selbst!" ("To the things themselves!"). . . . Read the whole review here:

Roth, Paul A. "Review of Jonathan Gorman's HISTORICAL JUDGEMENT." NDPR (August 2008).

Gorman, Jonathan. Historical Judgement: the Limits of Historiographical Choice. Chesham: Acumen, 2007. Jonathan Gorman's subtitle signals the thesis that he seeks to establish: to show false postmodernist claims (at least as Gorman reads them) that there exists "unlimited freedom of choice in the context of what to believe about reality." (9) Gorman opposes those forms of postmodernism that extend skepticism about reality to the most basic level of what to count as "atomic" statements of fact. But Gorman develops his account of important constraints on historiographical choice based on assumptions, e.g., holism and anti-realism, that he takes himself to share with the postmodernists he criticizes. This approach distinguishes Gorman's book from many other critiques of postmodernism. Based on the shared assumptions, he develops and defends a type of Quinean position he terms "pragmatic holistic empiricism." (10) Thus, even postmodernists would have to acknowledge his proposed limits on historiographical choices. . . . Read the rest here:

Anderson, Chris. "The End of Theory: Will the Data Deluge Make the Scientific Method Obsolete?" EDGE June 30, 2008.

"All models are wrong, but some are useful." So proclaimed statistician George Box 30 years ago, and he was right. But what choice did we have? Only models, from cosmological equations to theories of human behavior, seemed to be able to consistently, if imperfectly, explain the world around us. Until now. Today companies like Google, which have grown up in an era of massively abundant data, don't have to settle for wrong models. Indeed, they don't have to settle for models at all. Sixty years ago, digital computers made information readable. Twenty years ago, the Internet made it reachable. Ten years ago, the first search engine crawlers made it a single database. Now Google and like-minded companies are sifting through the most measured age in history, treating this massive corpus as a laboratory of the human condition. They are the children of the Petabyte Age. The Petabyte Age is different because more is different. Kilobytes were stored on floppy disks. Megabytes were stored on hard disks. Terabytes were stored in disk arrays. Petabytes are stored in the cloud. As we moved along that progression, we went from the folder analogy to the file cabinet analogy to the library analogy to — well, at petabytes we ran out of organizational analogies. At the petabyte scale, information is not a matter of simple three- and four-dimensional taxonomy and order but of dimensionally agnostic statistics. It calls for an entirely different approach, one that requires us to lose the tether of data as something that can be visualized in its totality. It forces us to view data mathematically first and establish a context for it later. For instance, Google conquered the advertising world with nothing more than applied mathematics. It didn't pretend to know anything about the culture and conventions of advertising — it just assumed that better data, with better analytical tools, would win the day. And Google was right. . . . Read the rest here:

Margolis, Eric. "Teaching John Dewey." EDUCATION REVIEW November 29, 2007.

  • Johnston, James Scott. Inquiry and Education: John Dewey and the Quest for Democracy. Albany: SUNY Press, 2006.
  • Martin, Jay. The Education of John Dewey: a Biography. New York: Columbia UP, 2002.
  • Simpson, Douglas J. John Dewey. New York: Peter Lang, 2006.
John Dewey was born two years before the Civil War and lived to see the Cold War. As a psychologist he is credited with developing the functionalist school; he helped found “pragmatism,” which is widely considered the first “American” school of philosophy; and of course, he had an enormous impact on education research and pedagogical practice that ran from the Laboratory School he created at the University of Chicago in 1896 through his long tenure at Teachers College at Columbia University. He was also a prolific social critic of the type we currently call “public intellectuals.” His written works have been collected in 37 volumes. Only teaching Hegel, Marx, and Sartre offer as daunting a challenge. I had used Democracy and Education (1916), which, while a definitive text, did not work well in isolation. Students simply did not have enough context to place the work within the history of social thought. In seeking an answer to how to teach Dewey, I read three recent books on him that could not be more different from one another. Jay Martin’s work, probably the definitive biography, discusses Dewey’s life and intellectual development against a broad background of world history. Simpson’s text is an accessible primer on Dewey, perhaps intended to introduce the man and his basic work to students in teacher preparation programs. Johnston’s book is an elaborate defense of Dewey’s philosophy (particularly his epistemology) against all critics foreign and domestic. There is so little overlap that I will discuss the volumes separately. . . . Read the whole review here:

Blackburn, Simon. "Truth's Caper." THE NEW REPUBLIC August 14, 2008.

Sokal, Alan. Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture. Oxford: OUP, 2008. Every reader of this magazine is likely to have heard of the "Sokal hoax," the most celebrated academic escapade of our time. Everyone is also likely to know the story in outline: how in 1996 the radical "postmodernist" journal Social Text published an article submitted by Alan Sokal, a mathematical physicist at New York University, with the mouthwatering title "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity." Sokal then revealed the article to be a spoof, a tissue of nonsense that he had painstakingly assembled in order to parody the portentous rubbish that flew under the colors of postmodernism. By publishing Sokal's submission, the emperors of that tendency revealed themselves to be as naked as the rest of academia had always suspected, and with this one coup Sokal himself became the toast of the town, a celebrity, a hero of the resistance. . . . Read the rest here:,%20Philosophy%20and%20Culture&PID=18. See also John Baez on the Bogdanov Affair here:

Franks, Paul. "Review of William F. Bristow's HEGEL AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF PHILOSOPHICAL CRITIQUE." NDPR (August 2008).

Bristow, William F. Hegel and the Transformation of Philosophical Critique. Oxford: OUP, 2007. William Bristow has written a superb book that makes a significant contribution both to the study of Hegel and Kant, and to current discussions of Hegelian and Kantian themes in epistemology. One should not underestimate the difficulty of illuminating both Hegel and Kant. Hegelians and Kantians have been talking past each other for two hundred years or so, and it is remarkably hard to articulate either position in a way that does justice to the other. While Bristow is fully explicit that his book is primarily in the service of Hegelianism, he undertakes at the same time to be as fair as possible to Kantian objections. Along with its philosophical ingenuity and interpretive scrupulousness, this fair-mindedness helps to make Bristow's book the most successful account so far of the Hegelian criticism of Kant. The final chapter also contains a highly suggestive and strikingly original account of a Hegelian alternative to Kantian approaches in epistemology. . . . Read the whole review here:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Morgan, Michael L. "Review of Charles Taylor's THE SECULAR AGE." NDPR (August 2008).

Taylor, Charles. The Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2007. This is a very important book and quite an extraordinary one. Some years ago, a colleague of mine began a review with a sentence that I have always wanted to use myself: "if I had written this book, I would die a happy man." The sentiment expressed by this sentence, that the book being reviewed has about it a kind of greatness and worth such that authoring it could easily count as the culmination of a fully worthwhile life, is one that I admit to feeling about Charles Taylor's monumental work A Secular Age. Taylor of course is well-known for his books on psychological explanation, Hegel, communitarian political philosophy, ethics and moral philosophy, and much else. Arguably he is one of the most influential English- language philosophers of the past half century. The scope of his thought is impressive -- history, political theory, ethics and moral philosophy, art, epistemology, and religion. But more to the point, it is the special way in which Taylor has bridged the gap between continental and analytic philosophy that is important and the way that in the course of bridging that gap he has shaped an historically rich and philosophically powerful conception of the modern identity and its social and cultural matrices. The current work is a much-expanded version of Taylor's Gifford Lectures and a natural successor to his earlier book Sources of the Self. In that book, Taylor identified the major features of our moral-political-religious identity in the Western world and showed how those features developed and crystallized out of various historical processes. He also framed the demands of such an identity broadly in terms of what he there called "moral sources" in order to display various modern options for what empowers and inspires our moral sensibilities. I am convinced, moreover, that in that work Taylor ultimately endorses the ways in which a religious moral source can and should be called upon to satisfy our needs as moral and political selves in the modern world. In the end, that is, Sources of the Self is both an exploration of who we are as modern selves and an apology for an ethics that refers to transcendence and is religious, and specifically Christian in spirit. But the focus of Sources of the Self is ethical and political, even if its conclusions, as I read it, are spiritual and religious, even if, that is, it argues that only a transcendent moral source is sufficient to inspire and empower the moral order that we in fact occupy. This is where A Secular Age constitutes a supplement to the earlier work. In the new book Taylor explores the religious -- and specifically the Christian -- character of our age and the various options available to believers and non-believers in our time. Moreover, not only does he provide a narrative of how these options arose and developed, from 1500 to the present, but he also examines the challenges they face and the dialectical ways in which these options are related to their cultural and political context, our needs and values, and one another. In the course of this account, furthermore, Taylor occasionally identifies his own proclivities and commitments, his own receptivity to transcendence and engagement with the historical, cultural, and political challenges we all face. Along the way, of course, we are introduced to a variety of ideal types of religious and non-religious ways of life, but this is no disinterested scholarly inquiry, no disengaged charting of territory or classification. It is rather an elaborate and committed mapping of territory for inhabitants by a co-inhabitant and a restrained eulogy to a particular domicile by one who occupies it. A Secular Age is a philosophical paean to one form of Christian moral and political life. . . . Read the rest here:


Table of Contents: Special Articles:
  • "The Hegelian 'Night of the World': Žižek on Subjectivity, Negativity, and Universality" by Robert Sixto Sinnerbrink Abstract English
  • "Žižek and the Real Hegel" by David J. Gunkel Abstract English
  • "The Concrete Universal in Žižek and Hegel" by Wendell Kisner Abstract English
  • "Žižek's Phenomenology of the Subject" by Tere Vaden Abstract English
  • "Christ, Hegel, Wagner" by Slavoj Žižek English
  • "Kant, or the Crack in the Universal: Slavoj Zizek’s Politicising of the Transcendental Turn" by Matthew Sharpe Abstract English
  • "Interpassivity Revisited: a Critical and Historical Reappraisal of Interpassive Phenomena" by Gijs van Oenen Abstract English
  • "Alain Badiou and the ‘Platonism of the Multiple’ - or, on What the Gesture of the Re-Entanglement of Mathematics and Philosophy Implies" by Roque Farran Abstract English Español
Reviews and Debates:
  • "The Only Hope of the Revolution is the Crowd: the Limits of Žižek’s Leninism" by Paul Kellogg Details English
  • "Symbolic Violence and Global Capitalism" by Tonci Valentic English
  • "A - A = a" by Seongmin Lee Korean English
  • "A Review of The Universal Exception" by Hsiang Hsu Chinese English
  • "Rejecting both Mao and Deng: Slavoj Žižek and Waiting for the Leftist Critique to Come" by Nathan Coombs English
  • "Film Review - Žižek!" by René Lemieux English Française
  • "Clinical Experience" by Janne Kurki Details English
Student Contributions:
  • "Who Needs Yalom When We Have Žižek?" by William John Urban Abstract English
  • "Vertigo by Far East (Italiano)" by Marco Grosoli Abstract Italiano
  • "M. Hommelette’s Wild Ride: Lamella as a Category of Shame" by Christine Evans Abstract English
Download the whole issue here: