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Ontological Humility

Lord Voldemort and the Philosophers

Nancy J. Holland

Publication Year: 2013

Explores ontological humility in the history of philosophy, from Descartes to contemporary gender and race theory.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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Prologue: Defining Ontological Humility

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pp. 1-22

This book explores the concept of “ontological humility,” as developed from the work of twentieth-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger, and traces its role in philosophical thought from the seventeenth century to contemporary gender and race theory. While some recent scholarship in both philosophy and feminism points indirectly to this...

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Chapter One: Epistemological Humility and Its Other

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pp. 23-44

“Epistemology” is the study of different theories of knowledge, of how we know things and how we can know when we know them. The philosophy of science, for instance, is a kind of epistemology that studies knowledge claims in the sciences. Epistemological humility would then be humility about the nature, extent, and reliability of human...

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Chapter Two: Ontological Humility in Heidegger

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pp. 45-66

It might be argued that one can only find the pattern of ontological and epistemological humility or arrogance in the authors discussed in the last chapter if one is looking for it (and, some might argue, not even then). But where does the idea that such a pattern exists come from? As suggested in the Prologue, the basic insight behind the concept of...

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Chapter Three: Existential Humility and Its Other

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pp. 67-88

We have already seen that one place where Martin Heidegger articulates his ontological humility is in his response to Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Existentialism Is a Humanism.” In order to see more clearly, therefore, how existentialism can fail to show ontological humility, it seems reasonable to begin with that 1947 article and then work our way backward to...

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Chapter Four: Postmodern Humility and Its Other

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pp. 89-110

Several ways could be found to describe the intellectual commonalities between the work of Michel Foucault and that of Jacques Derrida. Despite the limitations of the term, I have chosen the word “postmodern” because these two thinkers clearly operate in an intellectual space...

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Chapter Five: Feminist Humility

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pp. 111-130

In this chapter, we will see how the ontological humility we saw earlier in Frye’s work plays itself out in more recent feminist thought. We will first look at a thread of contemporary work in epistemology and science studies that focuses on so-called epistemologies of ignorance, and compare it with the earlier discussion of Heidegger’s work. Then we will...

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pp. 131-134

With the discussion of race in Collins and McWhorter, we have come full circle to Rowling’s assertion that an antiracist moral stance is at the core of the Harry Potter saga. It should be clearer now how ontological humility, and its other, are systematically tied to, without being confined to, the dynamics of race in the modern world. Racism, in both its U.S...


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pp. 135-144


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pp. 145-150


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pp. 151-160

Back Cover

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p. 172-172

E-ISBN-13: 9781438445519
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438445496

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2013