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Throughout more than forty years of distinguished teaching and scholarship, James W. Felt has been respected for the clarity and economy of his prose and for his distinctive approach to philosophy. The seventeen essays collected in Adventures in Unfashionable Philosophy reflect Felt’s encounters with fundamental philosophical problems in the spirit of traditional metaphysics but updated with modern concerns. Among the main themes of the volume are: the enrichment of Thomistic philosophy through engagement with modern philosophers, Whitehead and Bergson, in particular; considerations of metaphysical method and its effect on philosophic conclusions; the development of a nuanced epistemological realism; and the relation of possibility to actuality and of time to experience.
A Critical Perspective
The debate on the existence of African philosophy has taken central stage in academic circles, and academics and researchers have tussled with various aspects of this subject. This book notes that the debate on the existence of African philosophy is no longer necessary. Instead, it urges scholars to demonstrate the different philosophical genres embedded in African philosophy. As such, the book explores African metaphysical epistemology with the hope to redirect the debate on African philosophy. It articulates and systematizes metaphysical and epistemological issues in general and in particular on Africa. The book aptly shows how these issues intersect with the philosophy of life, traditional beliefs, knowledge systems and practices of ordinary Africans and the challenges they raise for scholarship in and on philosophy with relevance to Africa.
A Restorative Epistemology
This monograph is intended to examine the epistemology of restorative rights in view of the continuing violation of rights in all aspects of life on the African continent and other parts of the world. It is based on the research, which the Marcus Garvey Pan-Afrikan Institute undertook between 2006ñ2008, under a cross-disciplinary research project entitled Restorative Justice and its Relationship to International Humanitarian Law, which resulted in a Comprehensive Report that was later discussed at an international conference in Nairobi in August 2008. This conference was opened by the Prime Minister of Kenya, Right Hon. Raila Odinga and attended by Ministers of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, judges and other ministers from the five countries in which the research was carried out, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Southern Sudan. The objective here is to relate the concept of restorative justice, in its broad and cross-disciplinary meaning to the epistemology of Afrikology and transdisciplinarity, which aim at breaking down disciplinary boundaries between the different academic disciplines, which inhibit our capabilities of looking at realities in a comprehensive, holistic manner; leading to the adoption of fragmented solutions to problems, which inevitably fail to address those problems. As stated in the monograph on the epistemology of Afrikology, knowledge is created holistically by the heart and the basis of the perceptions and experiences of the five senses. The knowledge created through the word, which ultimately constitutes the language and the community, is related to our cosmic forces and reason, which gives cosmic significance to our existence. We cannot therefore detach ourselves from these cosmic forces and reality must be examined from this combinatory holistic understanding.
How do we understand and create kowledge? Does scientific knowledge cover all knowledge? Afrikology tries to answer these questions by tracing the issue of epistemology to the Cradle of Humanity in Africa and through such a reflection the Monograph establishes a basis for holistic and integrated ways of knowledge production that makes it possible to interface scientific knowledge with other forms of knowledge. In this way Afrikology responds to the crisis created by the fragmentation of knowledge through existing academic disciplines. Afrikology therefore advances transdisciplinarity and hermeneutics to a level where they attain a coherent basis for interacting with Afrikology as an epistemology which returns wholeness to understanding and knowledge production.
Rational Deliberation in the Face of Inconsistency
The word apory stems from the Greek aporia, meaning impasse or perplexing difficulty. In Aporetics, Nicholas Rescher defines an apory as a group of individually plausible but collectively incompatible theses. Rescher examines historic, formulaic, and systematic apories and couples these with aporetic theory from other authors to form this original and comprehensive survey. Citing thinkers from the pre-Socratics through Spinoza, Hegel, and Nicolai Hartmann, he builds a framework for coping with the complexities of divergent theses, and shows in detail how aporetic analysis can be applied to a variety of fields including philosophy, mathematics, linguistics, logic, and intellectual history. Rescher's in-depth examination reveals how aporetic inconsistency can be managed through a plausibility analysis that breaks the chain of inconsistency at its weakest link by deploying right-of-way precedence based on considerations of cognitive centrality. Thus while involvement with cognitive conflicts and inconsistencies are pervasive in human thought, aporetic analysis can provide an effective means of damage control.
Metaphysics and Practice
In Aquinas, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion, Thomas Hibbs recovers the notion of practice to develop a more descriptive account of human action and knowing, grounded in the venerable vocabulary of virtue and vice. Drawing on Aquinas, who believed that all good works originate from virtue, Hibbs postulates how epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, and theology combine into a set of contemporary philosophical practices that remain open to metaphysics. Hibbs brings Aquinas into conversation with analytic and Continental philosophy and suggests how a more nuanced appreciation of his thought enriches contemporary debates. This book offers readers a new appreciation of Aquinas and articulates a metaphysics integrally related to ethical practice.
A Philosophical Study
Among the most important, but frequently neglected, figures in the history of debates over skepticism is Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE). His early dialogue, Against the Academics, together with substantial material from his other writings, constitutes a sustained attempt to respond to the tradition of skepticism with which he was familiar. This was the tradition of Academic skepticism, which had its home in Plato's Academy and was transmitted to the Roman world through the writings of Cicero (106–43 BCE). Augustine and Academic Skepticism is the first comprehensive treatment of Augustine’s critique of Academic skepticism. In clear and accessible prose, Blake D. Dutton presents that critique as a serious work of philosophy and engages with it precisely as such.
While Dutton provides an extensive review of Academic skepticism and Augustine’s encounter with it, his primary concern is to articulate and evaluate Augustine’s strategy to discredit Academic skepticism as a philosophical practice and vindicate the possibility of knowledge against the Academic denial of that possibility. In doing so, he sheds considerable light on Augustine’s views on philosophical inquiry and the acquisition of knowledge.
An Essay on Self-Knowledge
Since Socrates, and through Descartes to the present day, the problems of self-knowledge have been central to philosophy's understanding of itself. Today the idea of ''first-person authority''--the claim of a distinctive relation each person has toward his or her own mental life--has been challenged from a number of directions, to the point where many doubt the person bears any distinctive relation to his or her own mental life, let alone a privileged one. In Authority and Estrangement, Richard Moran argues for a reconception of the first-person and its claims. Indeed, he writes, a more thorough repudiation of the idea of privileged inner observation leads to a deeper appreciation of the systematic differences between self-knowledge and the knowledge of others, differences that are both irreducible and constitutive of the very concept and life of the person.
Masterfully blending philosophy of mind and moral psychology, Moran develops a view of self-knowledge that concentrates on the self as agent rather than spectator. He argues that while each person does speak for his own thought and feeling with a distinctive authority, that very authority is tied just as much to the disprivileging of the first-person, to its specific possibilities of alienation. Drawing on certain themes from Wittgenstein, Sartre, and others, the book explores the extent to which what we say about ourselves is a matter of discovery or of creation, the difficulties and limitations in being ''objective'' toward ourselves, and the conflicting demands of realism about oneself and responsibility for oneself. What emerges is a strikingly original and psychologically nuanced exploration of the contrasting ideals of relations to oneself and relations to others.
A Mathematical Novel
While taking a class on infinity at Stanford in the late 1980s, Ravi Kapoor discovers that he is confronting the same mathematical and philosophical dilemmas that his mathematician grandfather had faced many decades earlier--and that had landed him in jail. Charged under an obscure blasphemy law in a small New Jersey town in 1919, Vijay Sahni is challenged by a skeptical judge to defend his belief that the certainty of mathematics can be extended to all human knowledge--including religion. Together, the two men discover the power--and the fallibility--of what has long been considered the pinnacle of human certainty, Euclidean geometry.
As grandfather and grandson struggle with the question of whether there can ever be absolute certainty in mathematics or life, they are forced to reconsider their fundamental beliefs and choices. Their stories hinge on their explorations of parallel developments in the study of geometry and infinity--and the mathematics throughout is as rigorous and fascinating as the narrative and characters are compelling and complex.
Moving and enlightening, A Certain Ambiguity is a story about what it means to face the extent--and the limits--of human knowledge.
Causal Explanation in the Social, Medical, and Physical Sciences
This book provides a post-positivist theory of deterministic and probabilistic causality that supports both quantitative and qualitative explanations. Features of particular interest include the ability to provide true explanations in contexts where our knowledge is incomplete, a systematic interpretation of causal modeling techniques in the social sciences, and a direct realist view of causal relations that is compatible with a liberal empiricism. The book should be of wide interest to both philosophers and scientists.
Originally published in 1992.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.