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William James's Revolutionary Philosophy
William James claimed that his Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking would prove triumphant and epoch-making. Today, after more than 100 years, how is pragmatism to be understood? What has been its cultural and philosophical impact? Is it a crucial resource for current problems and for life and thought in the future? John J. Stuhr and the distinguished contributors to this multidisciplinary volume address these questions, situating them in personal, philosophical, political, American, and global contexts. Engaging James in original ways, these 11 essays probe and extend the significance of pragmatism as they focus on four major, overlapping themes: pragmatism and American culture; pragmatism as a method of thinking and settling disagreements; pragmatism as theory of truth; and pragmatism as a mood, attitude, or temperament.
How does one write an experimental ABC, an impossible theory that would deal with a series of phenomena, concepts, places, sensations, persons, and moods? A para-philosophy? Returning to a once-abandoned project of fragmented thoughts where the author’s voice moves from the serious to the pathetic, to the absurd, to the cynical, Simon Critchley’s ABC of Impossibility finds new life in the form of this small encyclopedic and aphoristic text where the reader bears witness to the slow emergence of an attempt at a poetic ontology. ABC of Impossibility is a unique undertaking that reexamines the poetic site of the fragment as thought. Following a heritage of fragmented, aphoristic thinkers including Pascal, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Pessoa, Critchley revitalizes a para-philosophical thinking that can only be uttered by way of another. As he declares in the opening pages, “In writing this, I promise to tell the truth, but not to be myself.”
In this concise study, Nicole Brenez argues for Abel Ferrara's place in a line of grand inventors who have blurred distinctions between industry and avant-garde film, including Orson Welles, Monte Hellman, and Nicholas Ray. Rather than merely reworking genre film, Brenez understands Ferrara's oeuvre as formulating new archetypes that depict the evil of the modern world. Focusing as much on the human figure as on elements of storytelling, she argues that films such as Bad Lieutenant express this evil through visionary characters struggling against the inadmissible (inadmissible behavior, morality, images, and narratives).
A Twelfth-Century Philosopher in His Context and Ours
Abelard in Four Dimensions: A Twelfth-Century Philosopher in His Context and Ours by John Marenbon, one of the leading scholars of medieval philosophy and a specialist on Abelard's thought, originated from a set of lectures in the distinguished Conway Lectures in Medieval Studies series and provides new interpretations of central areas of Peter Abelard's philosophy and its influence. The four dimensions of Abelard to which the title refers are that of the past (Abelard's predecessors), present (his works in context), future (the influence of his thinking up to the seventeenth century), and the present-day philosophical culture in which Abelard's works are still discussed and his arguments debated. For readers new to Abelard, this book provides an introduction to his life and works along with discussion of his central ideas in semantics, ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. For specialists, the book contains new arguments about the authenticity and chronology of his logical work, fresh evidence about Abelard’s relations with Anselm and Hugh of St. Victor, a new understanding of how he combines the necessity of divine action with human freedom, and reinterpretations of important passages in which he discusses semantics and metaphysics. For all historians of philosophy, it sets out and illustrates a new methodological approach, which can be used for any thinker in any period and will help to overcome the divisions between "historians" based in philosophy departments and scholars with historical or philological training.
A Plea for a Contemporary Use of Fatalism
Pushing back against the contemporary myth that freedom from oppression is freedom of choice, Frank Ruda resuscitates a fundamental lesson from the history of philosophical rationalism: a proper concept of freedom can arise only from a defense of absolute necessity, utter determinism, and predestination.
Abolishing Freedom demonstrates how the greatest philosophers of the rationalist tradition and even their theological predecessors—Luther, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Freud—defended not only freedom but also predestination and divine providence. By systematically investigating this mostly overlooked and seemingly paradoxical fact, Ruda demonstrates how real freedom conceptually presupposes the assumption that the worst has always already happened; in short, fatalism. In this brisk and witty interrogation of freedom, Ruda argues that only rationalist fatalism can cure the contemporary sickness whose paradoxical name today is freedom.
"This excellent books is bound to stir debate on the abortion issue and to occupy a rather distinctive position." â€”R.G. Frey, Bowling Green State University With the current composition of the Supreme Court and recent challenges to Roe v. Wade, Peter S. Wenz's new approach to the ethical, moral, and legal issues related to a woman's right to elective abortion may turn the tide in this debate. He argues that the Supreme Court reached the right decision in Roe v. Wade but for the wrong reasons. Wenz contends that a woman's right to terminated her pregnancy should be based, not on her constitutional right to privacy, but on the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, a basis for freedom of choice that is not subject to the legal criticisms advanced against Roe. At least up to the 20th week of a pregnancy, one's belief whether a human fetus is a human person or not is a religious decision. He maintains that because questions about the moral status of a fetus are religious, it follows that anti-abortion legislation, to the extent that it is predicated on such "inherently religious beliefs," is unconstitutional. In this timely and topical book, Wenz also examines related cases that deal with government intervention in an individual's procreative life, the regulation of contraceptives, and other legislation that is either applied to or imposed upon select groups of people (e.g., homosexuals, drug addicts). He builds a concrete argument that could replace Roe v. Wade. Reviews "In this important study of abortion and the Constitiution, legal philosopher Peter Wenz contends that Roe v. Wade was wrongly argued but well conlcuded. Wenz presents a substantial review of Supreme Court decisions on abortion, then critically exposes flaws, including the privacy justification for abortion as well as the trimester scheme. â€”Religious Studies Review "In this major work, Peter Wenz has analyzed the relation of the Constitution's religion clauses to the abortion controversy. His principal contribution is to shift the argument from the right of privacy (invoked, he believes, unsuccessfully in Roe v. Wade) to the Establishment Clause. The Court's concern in Roe was whether the statute unduly burdened a fundamental right. But tested by the Establishment Clause, statutes may violate the Constitution by implicitly endorsing a religious belief, namely, the personhood of the unborn. Wenz concludes that the Establishment Clause permits abortions prior to the twenty-first week of pregnancy." â€”C. Herman Prichett, Professor of Political Science Emeritus, University of California, Santa Barbara "This is an original and scholarly exposition of the view that abortion rights fall under the religion clauses of the First Amendment. The view defended is an important alternative to the privacy defense upon which the Roe v. Wade decision was based and should help to expand the ethical and constitutional debate about abortion rights." â€”Mary Anne Warren, Associate Professor of Philosophy, San Francisco State University, and author of Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection Contents Preface Introduction Roe v. Wade under Attack â€¢ Individual Rights and Majority Rule â€¢ Constitutional Interpretation â€¢ Preview of Chapters 1. The Derivation of Roe v. Wade Economic Substantive Due Process â€¢ Due Process and the Family â€¢ Contraception and Privacy in Griswold v. Connecticut â€¢ Contraception and Privacy in Eisenstadt v. Baird â€¢ Blackmun's Privacy Rationale in Roe v. Wade â€¢ Stewart's Due Process Rationale in Roe v. Wade â€¢ Tribe on Substantive Due Process â€¢ Conclusion 2. Potentiality and Viability The Roe v. Wade Decision â€¢ The Concept of Viability in Abortion Cases â€¢ Dividing the Gestational Continuum â€¢ The Genetic Approach to Personhood â€¢ Viability versus Similarity to Newborns â€¢ Two Consequentialist Arguments â€¢ Feminism and Viability â€¢ Conclusion 3. The Evolution of "Religion" Religion in the Abortion Debate â€¢ The Original Understanding of the Religion Clauses â€¢ The Evolution of Religion Clause Doctrine â€¢ Incorporation of the Religion Clauses â€¢ From Belief to Practice â€¢ Alleviating Indirect Burdens on Religious Practice â€¢ Expanding the Meaning of "Religion" â€¢ The Original Understanding View â€¢ Bork: Conservative or Moderate? â€¢ Conflicts between the Religion Clauses â€¢ The Elusive Meaning of "Religion" â€¢ Conclusion 4. The Definition of "Religion" The Adjectival Sense of Religion â€¢ Religious Beliefs Independent of Organized Religions â€¢ Religious Belief as Fundamental to Organized Religion â€¢ Secular Beliefs Related to Material Reality â€¢ Secular Beliefs Related to Social Interaction â€¢ Secular Facts versus Secular Values â€¢ The Court's Characterizations of Secular Beliefs â€¢ Secular (Nonreligious) Belief â€¢ The Epistemological Standard for Distinguishing Religious from Secular Belief â€¢ Judicial Examples of Religious Beliefs â€¢ General Characteristics of Religious Beliefs â€¢ Summary 5. "Religion" in Court The Epistemological Standard Applied â€¢ Cults and Crazies â€¢ Secular Religions â€¢ Tensions between the Religion Clauses â€¢ The Unitary Definition of "Religion" 6. Fetal Personhood as Religious Belief Anti-Contraception Laws and the Establishment Clause â€¢ Belief in the Existence of God â€¢ Belief in the Personhood of Young Fetuses â€¢ Distinguishing Religious from Secular Determinations of Fetal Personhood â€¢ Religious versus Secular Uncertainty â€¢ Environmental Preservation and Animal Protection versus Fetal Value â€¢ Greenawalt's Argument â€¢ The Reach of Secular Considerations â€¢ Secular versus Religious Matters â€¢ Conclusion 7. The Regulation of Abortion The Trimester Framework and Its Exceptions â€¢ O'Connor's Objections to the Trimester Framework â€¢ Superiority of the Establishment Clause Approach to the Trimester Framework â€¢ Required Efforts to Save the Fetus â€¢ The Neutrality Principle â€¢ Appropriate Judicial Skepticism â€¢ Undue Burdens and Unconstitutional Endorsements â€¢ Conclusion 8. Abortion and Others Public Funding of Abortion â€¢ The Establishment Clause Approach to Public Funding â€¢ The Court's Funding Rationale â€¢ The Court's Inconsistent Rationale â€¢ Publicly Funded Family Planning Clinics â€¢ Spousal Consent â€¢ The Court's Flawed Parental Consent Rationale â€¢ Information Requirements â€¢ Spousal and Parental Consent â€¢ The Establishment Clause Approach: Medical Dimension â€¢ The Establishment Clause Approach: Religious Dimension â€¢ Implications of the Establishment Clause Approach â€¢ The Court's Inconsistency â€¢ Equivalent Results â€¢ Parental Notification â€¢ Conclusion Conclusion Justice Scalia's View â€¢ The Fundamental Flaw in Roe â€¢ The Rationale for the Establishment Clause Approach â€¢ Advantages of the Establishment Clause Approach Notes Glossary of Terms Annotated Table of Cases Bibliography Index About the Author(s): Peter S. Wenz is Professor of Philosophy and Legal Studies at Sangamon State University.
Aboutness has been studied from any number of angles. Brentano made it the defining feature of the mental. Phenomenologists try to pin down the aboutness-features of particular mental states. Materialists sometimes claim to have grounded aboutness in natural regularities. Attempts have even been made, in library science and information theory, to operationalize the notion.
But it has played no real role in philosophical semantics. This is surprising; sentences have aboutness-properties if anything does. Aboutness is the first book to examine through a philosophical lens the role of subject matter in meaning.
A long-standing tradition sees meaning as truth-conditions, to be specified by listing the scenarios in which a sentence is true. Nothing is said about the principle of selection--about what in a scenario gets it onto the list. Subject matter is the missing link here. A sentence is true because of how matters stand where its subject matter is concerned.
Stephen Yablo maintains that this is not just a feature of subject matter, but its essence. One indicates what a sentence is about by mapping out logical space according to its changing ways of being true or false. The notion of content that results--directed content--is brought to bear on a range of philosophical topics, including ontology, verisimilitude, knowledge, loose talk, assertive content, and philosophical methodology.
Written by one of today's leading philosophers, Aboutness represents a major advance in semantics and the philosophy of language.
Personal Meaning and Religious Authority
German rabbi, scholar, and theologian Abraham Geiger (1810--1874) is recognized as the principal leader of the Reform movement in German Judaism. In his new work, Ken Koltun-Fromm argues that for Geiger personal meaning in religion -- rather than rote ritual practice or acceptance of dogma -- was the key to religion's moral authority. In five chapters, the book explores issues central to Geiger's work that speak to contemporary Jewish practice -- historical memory, biblical interpretation, ritual and gender practices, rabbinic authority, and Jewish education. This is essential reading for scholars, rabbis, rabbinical students, and informed Jewish readers interested in Conservative and Reform Judaism.
Published with the generous support of the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation.
The Call of Transcendence
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was a prolific scholar, impassioned theologian, and prominent activist who participated in the black civil rights movement and the campaign against the Vietnam War. He has been hailed as a hero, honored as a visionary, and endlessly quoted as a devotional writer. In this sympathetic, yet critical, examination, Shai Held elicits the overarching themes and unity of Heschel’s incisive and insightful thought. Focusing on the idea of transcendence—or the movement from self-centeredness to God-centeredness—Held puts Heschel into dialogue with contemporary Jewish thinkers, Christian theologians, devotional writers, and philosophers of religion.