Monday, August 15, 2011

Wilson, Robert A., and Lucia Foglia. "Embodied Cognition." STANFORD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY July 25, 2011.

Cognition is embodied when it is deeply dependent upon features of the physical body of an agent, that is, when aspects of the agent's body beyond the brain play a significant causal or physically constitutive role in cognitive processing.

In general, dominant views in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science have considered the body as peripheral to understanding the nature of mind and cognition. Proponents of embodied cognitive science view this as a serious mistake. Sometimes the nature of the dependence of cognition on the body is quite unexpected, and suggests new ways of conceptualizing and exploring the mechanics of cognitive processing.

Embodied cognitive science encompasses a loose-knit family of research programs in the cognitive sciences that often share a commitment to critiquing and even replacing traditional approaches to cognition and cognitive processing. Empirical research on embodied cognition has exploded in the past 10 years. As the bibliography for this article attests, the various bodies of work that will be discussed represent a serious alternative to the investigation of cognitive phenomena.

Relatively recent work on the embodiment of cognition provides much food for thought for empirically-informed philosophers of mind. This is in part because of the rich range of phenomena that embodied cognitive science has studied. But it is also in part because those phenomena are often thought to challenge dominant views of the mind, such as the computational and representational theories of mind, at the heart of traditional cognitive science. And they have sometimes been taken to undermine standard positions in the philosophy of mind, such as the idea that the mind is identical to, or even realized in, the brain. . . .

Twelfth Annual Meeting, Foucault Circle, Canisius College, March 30-April 1, 2012.

Papers on any aspect of Foucault's work, and studies, critiques, and applications of Foucauldian thinking, are all welcome. We will aim  for a diversity of topics and perspectives in the program selection.

The meetings typically begin with an informal welcoming reception on  Friday evening. There will be morning and afternoon paper sessions on  Saturday, followed by dinner and a business meeting. The conference will conclude with paper sessions on Sunday morning. Each speaker will have approximately 35 minutes for paper presentation and discussion combined—papers should be a maximum of 3000 words (15-20 minutes, preferably 15).

In conjunction with our meeting in Buffalo, a city in which Foucault conducted research on the prison, this year's conference will include a session dedicated to discussing documents from the GIP (le Groupe d’information sur les Prisons, a French prison reform organization that Foucault co-founded). English translations of the texts will be available.

McAteer, John. "Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Early of Shaftesbury." INTERNET ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY July 29, 2011.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) was an English philosopher who profoundly influenced 18th century thought in Britain, France, and Germany. As a part of an important social circle of English Freethinkers along with early deists such as John Toland, Matthew Tindal, and Anthony Collins, Shaftesbury’s work had a significant influence on French deists such as Voltaire and Rousseau. He also corresponded with some of the most important thinkers of his day, including Locke, Leibniz, and Bayle. Shaftesbury was most influential in the history of English language philosophy through his concept of the moral sense which heavily influenced Hutcheson, Butler, Hume, and Adam Smith; and Shaftesbury was influential in Germany through his concept of enthusiasm which recovered (intuitive) reason from mere (discursive) reasoning and influenced the Romantic idea of the creative imagination as found in German thinkers such as Lessing, Mendelssohn, Goethe, Herder, and Schiller.

Although Shaftesbury was enormously influential in the 18th century, his prestige declined in the 20th century, primarily due to the rise of analytic philosophy which defined philosophy such that Shaftesbury’s work seemed more like literature or rhetoric than proper philosophy. Those trained in analytic philosophy continue to have trouble reading Shaftesbury, largely because he self-consciously rejects systematic philosophy and focuses more on rhetoric and literary persuasion than providing numbered premises. Shaftesbury is interested as much in moral formation as he is in moral theorizing, though his work does contain some, albeit intentionally veiled, discussion of theoretical concerns.

As Shaftesbury saw it, Hobbes had set the agenda of British moral philosophy (a search for the grounding of universal moral principles), and Locke had established its method (empiricism). Shaftesbury’s important contribution was to focus that agenda by showing what a satisfactory response to Hobbes might look like but without giving up too much of Locke’s method. Shaftesbury showed the British moralists that if we think of moral goodness as analogous to beauty, then (even within a broadly empiricist framework) it is still possible for moral goodness to be non-arbitrarily grounded in objective features of the world and for the moral agent to be attracted to virtue for its own sake, not merely out of self-interest.

In his most influential works, Shaftesbury thinks of moral judgment as self-reflection. First we have motives, and then we reflect on those motives resulting in a feeling of moral approval or condemnation. The process is the same when evaluating other agents: we reflect on their motives and feel approval or condemnation. In Shaftesbury’s aesthetic language, the state of having the morally correct motives is the state of being “morally beautiful,” and the state of approving the morally correct motives upon reflection is the state of having “good moral taste.” Shaftesbury argues that the morally correct motives which constitute moral beauty turn out to be those motives which are aimed at the good of one’s society as a whole. This good is understood teleologically. Furthermore Shaftesbury argues that both the ability to know the good of one’s society and the reflective approval of the motivation toward this good are innate capacities which must nevertheless be developed by proper socialization. . . .

Jensen, Anthony K. "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe." INTERNET ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHILOSOPHY August 7, 2011.

Goethe defies most labels, and in the case of the label ‘philosopher’ he did so intentionally. “The scholastic philosophy,” in his opinion, “had, by the frequent darkness and apparent uselessness of its subject- matter, by its unseasonable application of a method in itself respectable, and by its too great extension over so many subjects, made itself foreign to the mass, unpalatable, and at last superfluous” (Goethe 1902, 1: 294). But it is nothing exceptional for a philosopher to disdain the character of what is passed along under the name philosophy by professional academics. If Diogenes, Montaigne, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Sartre, or Rorty, can be considered philosophers, then it may even be a rule that to reject the appellation is a condition of having earned it. That said, Goethe is certainly not a philosopher in the sense made popular in his day: a builder of self-grounding systems of thought. Neither is he a philosopher by today’s most common definitions: either a professional analyzer of arguments or a critic of contemporary cultural practices. The paradigm under which Goethe might be classified a philosopher is much older, recalling the ancient and then renaissance conception of the polymath, the man of great learning and wisdom, whose active life serves as the outward expression of his thinking.

In terms of influence, Goethe’s upon Germany is second only to Martin Luther’s. The periods of his dramatic and poetic writing –Sturm und Drang, romanticism, and classicism— simply are the history of the high-culture in Germany from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. Philosophically, his influence is indelible, though not as wide-reaching. His formulation of an organic ontology left its mark on thinkers from Hegel to Wittgenstein; his theory of colors challenged the reigning paradigm of Newton’s optics; and his theory of morphology, that of Linnaeus’ biology. . . .

Barth, John. "Do I Repeat Myself? The Problem of the 'Already-Said.'" THE ATLANTIC (August 2011).

Full disclosure: my remarks on this subject have quite possibly been made by me before, in other contexts. When the eminent Italian critic and novelist Umberto Eco visited Johns Hopkins some decades ago, he spoke of the problem, for contemporary writers, of the “already said”: the circumstance that because Homer, for example, spoke so memorably in The Odyssey of the “wine-dark sea” and of “rosy-fingered Dawn,” nearly 3,000 years’ worth of poets and storytellers have had to find other images for sea and sunrise—a task that must become increasingly difficult as the repertory of possibilities is exhausted.

Indeed, Homer may have had an easier time than we comparative latecomers to literature have, but we need to remember that literature didn’t begin with Homer—not even written literature, not to mention the millennia-old oral tradition that preceded writing. Once upon a time, perusing a book about the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, I noted that some twelve centuries before Homer, in about 2000 B.C.E., the scribe Khakheperresenb was already voicing what I like to call Khakheperresenb’s Complaint: “Would I had phrases that are not known,” the scribe laments, “in new language that has not been used not an utterance which has grown stale, which men of old have spoken.” I used to comfort my students (and myself) with the reflection that for all we know, two or three millennia of sea and sunrise metaphors might be like the first few million stars in our galaxy—a mere drop in the bucket!—while at the same time acknowledging that Khakheperresenb’s feeling of having arrived late to the party is not to be dismissed. That feeling prompted my 1967 essay, “The Literature of Exhaustion” (more accurately, the literature of “felt exhausted possibility”): a feeling that, whether or not it turns out to be mistaken, may nevertheless be a considerable cultural datum—and perhaps even the subject of new work. We often attribute to the Romantics that impulse to “make it new,” in Ezra Pound’s famous formulation—a culture’s felt need to follow Impressionism with Post-Impressionism, Modernism with Post-Modernism—but that impulse much antedates them. In The Aeneid, for example, Virgil famously reorchestrates Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey in order to demonstrate the Romans’ worthiness to succeed the Greeks; then Dante, thirteen centuries later, resurrects Virgil to guide him through the first two-thirds of The Divine Comedy, his odyssey through the hereafter (and by so doing, to validate its author as Virgil’s worthy successor). Dark Ages are followed by Medieval, Medieval by Renaissance, Renaissance by Reformation, Baroque, Enlightenment, etc.: the costumes change, but the show goes on. . . .

Fish, Stanley. "Does Philosophy Matter?" Opiniator Blog. NEW YORK TIMES August 1, 2011.

Now it could be said (and some philosophers will say it) that the person who deliberates without self-conscious recourse to deep philosophical views is nevertheless relying on or resting in such views even though he is not aware of doing so. To say this is to assert that doing philosophy is an activity that underlies our thinking at every point, and to imply that if we want to think clearly about anything we should either become philosophers or sit at the feet of philosophers. But philosophy is not the name of, or the site of, thought generally; it is a special, insular form of thought and its propositions have weight and value only in the precincts of its game . Points are awarded in that game to the player who has the best argument going (“best” is a disciplinary judgment) for moral relativism or its opposite or some other position considered “major.” When it’s not the game of philosophy that is being played, but some other — energy policy, trade policy, debt reduction, military strategy, domestic life — grand philosophical theses like “there are no moral absolutes” or “yes there are” will at best be rhetorical flourishes; they will not be genuine currency or do any decisive work. Believing or disbelieving in moral absolutes is a philosophical position, not a recipe for living. . . .

Bauer, Nancy. Review of Simone De Beauvoir, THE SECOND SEX. NDPR (August 2011).

De Beauvoir, Simone.  The Second Sex.  Trans. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier.  New York: Random House, 2010.

This is a review of the new English-language translation of Simone de Beauvoir's magnum opus, Le Deuxième sexe (1949), particularly with respect to its value for readers interested in Beauvoir as a philosopher. An important and unqualifiedly positive difference between this translation and the only other one available in English, which came out in 1952, is that the new translation has restored 145 pages of the original 972-page French original that the older English version omits, often willy-nilly and always without annotations or signposts. For the first time, Anglophone readers do not have to wonder whether the particular section of the book they're reading is filled with hidden holes.

We must not undervalue the importance of this restoration. And it is a relief to find that some of most grievous errors in the old translation have been eliminated. But the new translation is on the whole a disappointment, and not just from the point of view of those interested in the book as a work of philosophy, though the sting for us will be especially acute. Some of the problems that plague the old translation reappear in the new, and there are fresh ones as well. Most exasperatingly, the translators of the new version often sacrifice readability and clarity in favor of a highly unidiomatic word-by-word literalism that hampers the flow of Beauvoir's prose and often obfuscates its meaning. There are crucial places in Beauvoir's argument in which the new translation is decidedly superior to the old. On the whole, however, the new version often taxes the reader's patience and obscures Beauvoir's views. . . .

Perpich, Diane. Review of Megan Craig, LEVINAS AND JAMES. NDPR (August 2011).

Craig, Megan.  Levinas and James: Toward a Pragmatic Phenomenology.  Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010.

Megan Craig's Levinas and James: Toward a Pragmatic Phenomenology is less an academic study of the two thinkers of the title or the two traditions of the subtitle than it is a personal journey of philosophical and aesthetic exploration. With a heightened sensitivity to images and mood, Craig rereads Levinas through the lens of James's radical empiricism, offering us a portrait of Levinas that is at once recognizable and new. Quoting James, Craig notes that philosophy "is more a matter of passionate vision than of logic," and her book clearly strives to embody the "more expansive, creative, and experimental notion of writing and reading" that James advocates (132). The book proceeds in six chapters whose titles are evocative rather than descriptive: a first approach to Levinas's thought is advanced in the two chapters titled "Insomnia" and "Faces." The connection to James's pragmatism is expanded in the middle chapters on "Experience" and "Emotion." The aesthetic dimensions of Levinas's work and their connection to ethical themes are explored in the final two chapters, respectively entitled "Poetry" and "Painting." These are followed by a concluding "Afterword" in which Craig helpfully summarizes the trajectory of the book and some of the positions it seeks to stake out. . . .

Haddad, Samir. Review of Nathan Eckstrand, et al., eds. PHILOSOPHY AND THE RETURN OF VIOLENCE. NDPR (August 2011).

Eckstrand, Nathan, and Christopher S. Yates, eds.  Philosophy and the Return of Violence: Studies from this Widening Gyre.  London: Continuum, 2011.

Philosophy and the Return of Violence: Studies from this Widening Gyre is a thought-provoking collection of thirteen essays by philosophers working in the Continental tradition. While some reference is made to empirical events -- the wars and the peace movements of the last century and the terrorism of this one -- the approach taken by the contributors is firmly theoretical, with the focus divided between accounts of structures responsible for violence, proposals for the pursuit of nonviolence, and critiques of other philosophers' writings on this theme. One shortcoming of the book as a whole is the brevity of the essays; in several instances I wanted to read more from the particular author, to see the next step in the argument or justification for a certain claim. But that is inevitable in this kind of edited collection, and most if not all of the authors have written more on these topics in other publications. Philosophy and the Return of Violence is thus perhaps best treated as a sampler of sorts, providing the reader with a diverse snapshot of ideas, analyses, and arguments that can be pursued elsewhere should they pique her interest. . . .

Monday, August 08, 2011

Derrida Conference, Goethe University, March 14-16, 2012.

In the wake of the thought of Jacques Derrida, the claim of philosophy can be understood as the opening of new paths, the disrupting of closures. But who makes deconstruction? Who makes it present? Can it be made present? How can deconstruction continue? And in what does the movement of this thinking today consist?

From the beginning, the question of the presence of philosophy has been a question of its progress. However, after Derrida, this question not only presents itself once more, but also in a different way. With him, language, conceptual thinking, as well as linguistic performance as questioning self-reference, have been decidedly transformed. The approaches associated with the name Derrida move in a relation of tension to philosophy as a discipline, and evade that understanding of philosophy that grasps its time in concepts and its activity as conceptual work. In and through acts of deconstruction, this work opens up the concept, beginning from a variety of newly conceptualized turns and neologisms, which consist as much in turning away, turning against, turning astray, as well as turning to rigorous objections.

Meanwhile, deconstructive turns and practices themselves appear, and come to take on, terminological and disciplinary forms. Today, therefore, the problem arises as to what extent acts of deconstruction, practices that work with and against the concept, the very concept of the concept, as well as the concept of philosophy and of other disciplines, can be thought. Do acts of deconstruction, which in part turn away from the concept or turn against it, still move in tension with the classical understanding of such conceptual work? Or has the deconstructive encounter with concepts ceased, transforming the nature of thinking itself? How can it still succeed in this thinking, which moves beyond concepts by means of concepts?

The aim of this conference is to provide a space to develop, problematize, and discuss the formation of concepts after Derrida. The question of the presence and future of deconstruction arises thereby as a double question: It is not only a question of clarifying where the key problems of a deconstructive thinking could be situated, but also a question of what ways of describing such problems become possible.

Possible paper topics include:

An-arché and violence
Literature, writing, and voice
Ontology and hauntology
Sovereignty, eleutheria, and exousia
L’animot and anthropology
The spacing of time, deferred action (Nachträglichkeit), and iteration
Responsibility and law
Intersubjectivity and alterity
Aporia, method, and dialectic
Cognition and epoché
Geometry and genealogy

"Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Britain," University of Leeds, June 28-29, 2012.

Plenary Speakers:

Dr Gregory Dart (University College London);
Professor Robert Mankin (Université Paris-Diderot);
Professor John T. Scott (University of California, Davis)

The aim of this international conference, held in celebration of the tercentenary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s birth, is twofold: first, to reassess the impact that Britain had on Rousseau’s life and writing; and secondly, to examine the reception of Rousseau's works in Britain from the eighteenth century to the present day.

It is well known that Rousseau spent a number of months in England in 1766-67, a stay dominated by his stormy relationship with David Hume. What is less well known is the extent to which Rousseau, even before then, was steeped in British culture, including its literature, its philosophy and its politics. Exactly how Rousseau engaged with British culture and the effect it had on his own intellectual development and output will be a key focus of this conference. The conference will also allow scholars to explore systematically the many ways in which Rousseau has been read, understood, appropriated and challenged by British writers, philosophers and political theorists from the eighteenth century to the present day.

Possible topics for conference papers include, but are not limited to:

 · Rousseau in Britain: travel and translation
 · Rousseau and the British press
 · Rousseau and the British Enlightenment
 · Rousseau and the Romantics
 · Rousseau and the Victorians
 · Rousseau: From Modernism to Postmodernism
 · Rousseau and British feminism
 · Rousseau and British nature-writing
 · Rousseau and the novel in Britain
 · Rousseau and British educational theory
 · Rousseau and British political theory

Proposals for 20-minute papers in English should include a title and an abstract of 300-500 words and should be sent by 30 September 2011 to the conference organisers, Professor Russell Goulbourne ( and Dr David Higgins (

"Radical Foucault," Centre for Cultural Studies Research, University of East London, September 9, 2011.

Keynote Speakers:

Stuart Elden, Professor in the Department of Geography, Durham University, one of the founding editors of Foucault Studies;
Mark Kelly, Lecturer in Philosophy, Middlesex University, author of The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault (Routledge, 2009)

The publication of Michel Foucault's Lectures at the College de France, 1983-84 in English will be complete in April 2011 and his first College de France lecture course, La Volunté de Savoir, will be published for the first time in February. The Centre for Cultural Studies Research at the University of East London is holding a an international conference which will re-assess Foucault's contribution to radical thought and the application of his ideas to contemporary politics. What does it mean to draw on Foucault as a resource for radical politics, and how are we to understand the politics which implicitly informs his work?

Many commentators today would seem to claim Foucault as the theorist of a politics which eschews all utopian ambition in favour of a certain governmental pragmatism, while others would claim him for a rigorous but ultimately rather simple libertarianism: can either of these positions ever be adequate to the radicalism of Foucault's analyses? Does it matter?

What is the significance of Foucault s ideas of governmentality and biopolitics in understanding his later oeuvre and its implications; do either of these terms deserve to carry the weight attributed to them by some commentators? What is the ongoing relevance of Foucault's account of disciplinarity: is, it, as Lazzarato has claimed, a historical category no longer fully applicable to contemporary forms of power?

How can Foucauldian ideas be brought bear on the analysis of austerity politics? Is there a role for Foucault's ideas in formulating effective resistance to the increasing erosion of civil liberties that operates both within countries and across state boundaries? Can the notion of bio-power account for contemporary forms of racism? How can Foucauldian epistemology enable an understanding of the biopolitics of contemporary scientific discourse?

Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

Foucauldian thought and contemporary subjectivation
Foucault and other thinkers
Governmentality and everyday life
Strategic discourses of war and terror
New technologies of the self
Foucault and new forms of resistance
Heterotopias now and in the future
Foucault and the erosion of the state
Disciplinary society and the society of control
Foucault, British politics and the 'big society'
Foucault, post-Fordism and post-democracy

"Ancient Fallacies," Department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Durham, September 21-23, 2011.

Greek philosophers 'invented' the discipline known as 'logic', the study and classification of valid forms of argument and inference (the 'invention' is usually attributed to Aristotle, but less systematic reflections on logical issues can be traced back at least to Plato). Since its beginning and throughout antiquity, this inquiry remained intimately connected to the investigation, diagnosis and classification of forms of argument that are invalid or otherwise unsound, and especially of those forms of argument which, despite their invalidity, somehow appear to be valid and thus can easily induce in error. To be able to spot and unmask 'fallacies' in someone else's argument was particularly crucial in a context in which philosophy itself had an intrinsic dialectical nature, and fallacy was often used consciously or 'sophistically' to win the debate or put one's rival into a corner. The conference will investigate ancient theories of fallacies and sophisms, practices and examples of fallacious argumentation, and philosophical attitudes towards them.

Thielke, Peter. Review of Dean Moyar, HEGEL'S CONSCIENCE. NDPR (July 2011).

Moyar, Dean.  Hegel's ConscienceOxford: OUP, 2011.

Despite a growing interest in Hegel among Anglophone philosophers, there has been relatively little attention paid to the specific structure of Hegel's ethical views. Given this situation, it is gratifying to report not only that Dean Moyar's Hegel's Conscience seeks to fill this gap, but also that it does so in such an interesting and rewarding way. Far from being the paragon of impenetrability, Moyar's Hegel develops a theory of agency and ethical action that is both clear and cogent, as well as highly relevant to contemporary debates about these issues. The book is excellent and should be of interest not only to scholars of German Idealism but also to anyone seeking new options in currently ossified metaethical debates. It is not an exhaustive account of all aspects of Hegel's ethics, but it promises to lay the groundwork for what might well become a serious Hegelian alternative to more familiar models of moral agency. 
The kernel of Moyar's argument concerns the central role of conscience in Hegel's ethics. At first glance, this might look like a rather unpromising place to start, since even Hegel himself castigates the ethics of conscience: if the moral worth of my actions is entirely dependent on whether I in good conscience perform them, then it seems that anything would be permitted, so long as I act with full conviction. As Moyar argues, however, such claims have misled commentators into thinking that Hegel is suspicious of all forms of conscience, when in fact his complaint is only with an ethics based on formal or abstract conscience alone. Rather, as Moyar claims, actual conscience for Hegel is the locus of practical reason; it "stands for a complex set of capacities that include judgment, inference, deliberation, belief, etc." (14). The agent of conscience acts on the subjective belief that her actions are right, but this is buttressed by the idea that objective reasons can be provided to support these beliefs. And, in one of the most interesting claims of the book, Moyar shows that, for Hegel, these reasons of conscience can only be understood in the context of a robust social practice -- Hegel's ethics is, in the end, based on a holistic account of inner and outer reasons that together form the complex web of individual agency within a larger society. . . .

Kisiel, Theodore. Review of Daniel Dahlstrom, ed. INTERPRETING HEIDEGGER. NDPR (July 2011).

Dahlstrom, Daniel O., ed.  Interpreting Heidegger: Critical Essays Cambridge: CUP, 2011.

Editor Dan Dahlstrom is quick to place this entire collection of "critical essays" under the Dilthey-Heideggerian preconception of the pan-hermeneutic character of human life: Das Leben selbst legt sich aus: "Life itself lays itself out, interprets itself, articulates itself." Aristotle's definition of humans as talking animals readily slips into our being "interpreting animals" irrevocably caught up in an interpretive process with "every move we make," thereby "elaborating, exposing, and shaping our self-understanding and, in the process, our relationships to ourselves, our world, and other things within the world." Moreover, having been thrown into this interpretive process of life willy-nilly, "our interpretations are not ours alone, but the often mindless yet time-tested iteration of a tradition of interpretations written into our most common practices and beliefs" (p. 1). The need for more thoughtful interpretations of this tradition of interpretations readily develops into some of the larger tasks assumed in the Heideggerian opus, like the need to interpret the entire history of Western thinking from its Greek beginnings to the present in order to come to terms with the "hermeneutic situation" of the revolutionary age in which we now find ourselves.

The essays are grouped into three divisions: I. Interpreting Heidegger's Philosophy; II. Interpreting Heidegger's Interpretations; III. Interpreting Heidegger's Critics. . . .

Reginster, Bernard. Review of Ken Gemes, et al., eds. NIETZSCHE ON FREEDOM AND AUTONOMY. NDPR (July 2011).

Gemes, Ken, and Simon May, eds.  Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy Oxford: OUP, 2009.

Nietzsche's views on freedom and autonomy are confined to short, provocative statements dispersed throughout his writings. For this reason, they have not been the object of much focused, systematic scholarly treatment. This collection of essays by some of the finest Nietzsche scholars, edited by Ken Gemes and Simon May (whose helpful introduction also outlines its contents), is a spirited attempt to fill that scholarly gap. The contributions collected in Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy can be divided into two groups, each focusing on one basic aspect of the question of freedom and autonomy. The first concerns the nature of the self to which freedom and autonomy are attributed: contributions that concentrate on this question tend to treat freedom as a defining feature of selfhood, or agency. The second question bears on what it is for that self to be, or to achieve, freedom and autonomy: contributions that consider this question tend to treat freedom as an ethical ideal to be pursued by individuals who already are selves or agents. More than half of the contributions (those by Sebastian Gardner, Ken Gemes, Christopher Janaway, Brian Leiter, Aaron Ridley, David Owen, and Maudemarie Clark and David Dudrick) are primarily devoted to the Nietzschean conception of the self, specifically of the self understood as will or agency. And almost all of the remaining contributions (those by Robert Pippin, Simon May, John Richardson, and Peter Poellner) examine Nietzsche's conception(s) of freedom and autonomy as an ethical ideal. I will review each group of essays in turn, and, for ease of presentation, not necessarily in the order in which they appear in the collection. . . .


Hegel, G. W. F.  Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Basic Outline, Part I: Science of Logic.  Ed. and trans. Klaus Brinkmann and Daniel O. Dahlstrom.  Cambridge: CUP, 2010.

This new translation of what is commonly known as the Encyclopedia Logic is the third volume in the series of Cambridge Hegel Translations under the general editorship of Michael Bauer. It is a readable, accurate and sometimes surprisingly elegant translation with a minimum of editorial apparatus that presents the work as the "basic outline" that it is.

As the full title suggests, the Encyclopedia Logic is the first part of Hegel's systematic but condensed presentation of his mature philosophy, which is followed by two additional parts covering the philosophies of nature and spirit (Geist). Mostly the Encyclopedia Logic covers the same ground as his earlier (and much larger) Science of Logic, though in a much more schematic form and sometimes in a slightly different order. But it also includes an extensive section -- almost 90 pages in this edition -- entitled the "Preliminary Conception", in which Hegel provides a historical introduction to his philosophy beginning with ancient Greek philosophy and continuing on through empiricism and Kant. This is the best introduction to his thought that Hegel himself wrote, both because of its relative brevity and the clarity of the historical references as compared to his official introduction, the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit. It also includes the best short discussion of Hegel's understanding of the dialectical nature of reason (§§80-2). The Encyclopedia is very much an outline, with condensed presentations of the crucial steps that were intended to provide a framework for Hegel's students on which they could weave the examples, allusions, and arguments of his lectures. As compared to the Science of Logic, the Encyclopedia Logic often appears to present what animators call the extremes without the in-between frames that show how they are connected. This volume includes selections from the notes of Hegel's students (the Additions or Zusätze) that provide very helpful examples and connections to other elements of Hegel's system. The Encyclopedia went through three different versions under Hegel's own revisions, and this translation is from the last edition of 1830.

The present volume may very naturally be compared with two other (relatively) recent translations, the translation of the Encyclopedia Logic by Geraets, Suchting and Harris (hereinafter "GSH"), and George di Giovanni's translation of the Science of Logic that precedes the present volume in the Cambridge series. . . .

"Between Scientists and Citizens: Assessing Expertise in Policy Controversies," Iowa State University, June 1-2, 2012.

Keynote speakers:

Sally Jackson, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
Massimo Pigliucci, Lehman College, CUNY

We are increasingly dependent on advice from experts in making decisions in our personal, professional, and civic lives. But as our dependence on experts has grown, new media have broken down the institutional barriers between the technical, personal and civic realms, and we are inundated with purported science from all sides. Many share a sense that science has lost its "rightful place" in our deliberations. Grappling with this cluster of problems will require collaboration across disciplines: among rhetorical and communication theorists studying the practices and norms of public discourse, philosophers interested in the informal logic of everyday reasoning and in the theory of deliberative democracy, and science studies scholars examining the intersections between the social worlds of scientists and citizens.

For this conference, we invite work from across the disciplines focused on argumentation, reasoning, communication and deliberation, with special emphasis on:
lay assessment of expertise and expert testimony
detection of and response to distorted science and "manufactured controversy"
pedagogies for developing critical thinking about science in controversies
roles scientists and scientific information play in civic deliberations and policy-making
transformation of arguments as they travel between technical, personal and civic spheres
expert testimony as a source of knowledge
roles of traditional journalism, new media, "boundary organizations" and "trading zones" in constructing public knowledge of science
design of institutions for providing trustworthy advice on controversial issues
special problems of communicating scientific information in health, organizational, legal, crisis, risk and other contexts

Beatrix Himmelmann, Beatrix. Review of NIETZSCHE AND THE ANCIENT SKEPTIC TRADITION. NDPR (July 2011).

Berry, Jessica N.  Nietzsche and the Ancient Skeptical TraditionOxford: OUP, 2011.

When writing on a figure like Nietzsche, a figure attracting wide attention and receiving diverse interpretation, many authors begin by ensuring that they are able to offer an exciting new way of understanding. Few, however, succeed in really doing so. Jessica Berry's book does, in fact, inspire rethinking the big questions Nietzsche poses. It is true that the idea that Nietzsche, somehow, embraces skepticism is widespread. He is known to be abundantly critical about most of the claims presented by the most influential philosophers -- philosophers whose legacy still is and, probably, will continue to be an important stimulus for philosophical debates in a variety of fields. Nietzsche takes pride in portraying himself as a "tempter" (Versucher), "digging, mining, undermining" (Daybreak, Preface 1). In his late self-image Ecce Homo he famously declares: "Ich bin kein Mensch, ich bin Dynamit." ("I am not a man, I am dynamite.")

Berry clears the diffuse picture of Nietzsche's skepticism. She identifies a specific tradition of skepticism to which Nietzsche owes quite a bit and which might, accordingly, contribute to explaining his key projects. Even though Nietzsche refers to Descartes explicitly when he publishes the first edition of Human, All too Human (HH, Instead of a Preface) in 1878 and alludes to Hume's skeptical objections throughout his works, it is not a strain of modern skepticism that he takes up. As Berry points out, ancient skepticism, namely Pyrrhonism, provided Nietzsche with a pattern of argumentation to which he felt akin. Cartesian doubt is methodic doubt, i.e., it is employed in order to arrive finally at some kind of certainty. In a fragment from 1885 (KSA 11: 632), Nietzsche states that, for this reason, Descartes is not radical enough. Descartes strives for certainty and does not want to be deceived. "Why not?" asks Nietzsche. Being disinterested in certainty, however, distinguishes Pyrrhonian skeptics. In contrast to another group of ancient skeptics, the Academic, they do not claim to know that things are, by their nature, inapprehensible. Consequently, Pyrrhonian skeptics are not in danger of turning into negative dogmatists. They are not tempted to fall victim to the one flaw all sorts of dogmatists share: a preference for ceasing investigation altogether because of the conviction that ultimate insight into the structure of things has been achieved. Pyrrhonists, instead, seek to continue investigation through epochē, suspension of judgment by means of opposing arguments and appearances against each other in any way whatsoever -- hoping to achieve equipollence (isostheneia) of the objects and reasons thus opposed.

From all of this, it should be fairly plausible that Nietzsche must have been attracted by the tradition of Pyrrhonian skepticism. . . .

Villa-Ignacio, Teresa. Review of Patrick O'Connor, DERRIDA: PROFANATIONS. NDPR (July 2011).

O'Connor, Patrick.  Derrida: Profanations.  London: Continuum, 2010.

In this volume, Patrick O'Connor makes the compelling argument that Derrida's fifty-year writing career was dedicated to a philosophy of profanation. As the key operation of deconstruction, profanation entails both a laying bare of the constructedness or profane character of anything deemed sacred and enables an exploration of the significance of profanation as a ubiquitous existential and relational condition. O'Connor engages with an impressive range of texts by Derrida and the philosophers who have come before and after him. He argues that Derrida's critiques of Husserlian phenomenology, Hegelian temporality, Heideggarian ontology, Levinasian alterity, and Christian charity, as well as Derrida's own ethical and political philosophies, are all articulations of ubiquitous profanation, finitization, contingency, and the potential contamination of any identity by all other identities. The book also includes relevant comparisons of Derridean arguments with those of his contemporaries, including Agamben, Žižek, and Badiou, among others.  

The author notes that his book shares many affinities with Leonard Lawlor's Derrida and Husserl: The Basic Problem of Phenomonology and Martin Hägglund's Radical Atheism: Derrida and the Time of Life, and he candidly situates his work as a critique of the ethical, religious, and messianic turns in Derridean studies. While students of religious studies, ethical philosophy, and political philosophy may be most interested in the chapters specifically addressing their fields, those interested in Derridean studies and continental philosophy in general will be intrigued by O'Connor's tracing of profanation as an argumentative thread running from the early to the late Derrida.