Conscience and Rhetoric in Hobbes, Hegel, and Heidegger
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Northwestern University Press
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I would like to express my appreciation to Peg Birmingham, Will McNeill, and Michael Naas for their generous feedback and encouragement during this book’s early stages; to Stephen Houlgate for his assistance with the initial formulation of my goals; and to Beth Ash and Paul Davies for preparing me for this work.
Introduction: On Metaphor, Conscience, and Bindingness
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Both our philosophical and everyday conceptions of conscience come to us by way of a tradition of wildly incompatible figures and images. They include figures of activities, such as seeing, hearing, telling, judging, biting, strangling, gnawing, punishing, and torturing; spatial and architectural figures, as of the heart, a courtroom, an inner hell, and a church ...
1 Hobbes’s Leviathan: Conscience and the Concealments of Metaphor
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In the course of condemning metaphor and figurative language in Leviathan, Hobbes offers the example of the word “conscience” to illustrate the dangers of metaphor. According to Hobbes, “conscience” was originally the name for public, shared knowledge, but Hobbes narrates a history in which a metaphoric characterization of conscience as private, individual knowledge came to supplant the earlier meaning.
2 Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: The Performative Successes and Rhetorical Failures of Conscience
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In the previous chapter I examined how, in Hobbes’s seventeenth-century account of conscience, metaphor and figurative language function performatively. For Hobbes, the metaphoric usage of the word “conscience” to refer to a solitary knowing instead of a shared knowing invents the sphere of private conscience and private opinion; likewise figurative usage destabilizes the order of names that constitutes truth.
3 Heidegger’s Being and Time: Not “About” Being
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In the last chapter we saw that the Phenomenology of Spirit is in Hegel’s own description not simply about the development of Spirit but instead enacts, or even is, this development. In Hegel’s understanding, the Phenomenology of Spirit does not primarily represent but rather performs the unfolding that it describes. Heidegger’s Being and Time (1927) also has a “not-about” quality, ...
Conclusion: The Frailties of Guarantee
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In the preceding chapters I have considered how conscience is characterized as binding within texts of Hobbes, Hegel, and Heidegger, and I have also examined those characterizations as paradigmatic for a consideration of how texts may be binding upon their readers and the world. Given the emphasis placed in the preceding readings on the nonconstative, “not-about,” and binding aspects of texts, it is a discomfiting task to formulate a conclusion or finding.
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Page Count: 164
Publication Year: 2006
Series Title: Topics in Historical Philosophy
Series Editor Byline: McCumber, John