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Difficulties of Ethical Life

Dennis Schmidt

This book brings the powerful insights of Continental philosophy to bear on some of the most challenging difficulties of ethical life. Currently philosophy is being radically transformed by questions of how to live well. What does such a way of life mean? How are we to understand the meaning of ethicality? What are the obstacles to ethical living? And should we assume that an ethical life is a betterlife? The movement of history and the developments of culture and knowledge seem to have outstripped the capacity of traditional forms of reflection upon ethical life to understand how we might answer these questions. Ranging from existentialism to deconstruction, phenomenology to psychoanalytic theory, and hermeneutics to post-structuralism, the twelve essays in this volume take up a wide but clearly connected set of issues relevant to living ethically: race, responsibility, religion, terror, torture, technology, deception, and even the very possibility of an ethical life. Some of the questions addressed are specific to our times; others are ancient questions but with quite contemporary twists. In each case, they concern the philosophical significance of ongoing historical, cultural, and political transformations for ethical living and thinking.

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Doing Ethics in a Pluralistic World

Essays in Honour of Roger C. Hutchinson

Doing Ethics in a Pluralistic World is an apt title for this collection of essays in honour of Roger C. Hutchinson who, over many decades, has encouraged and participated in shaping a Canadian contextual social ethics. His abiding interest in social ethics and in religious engagement with public issues is reflected in his life’s work — seeking the consensus and self-knowledge required to achieve cooperation in the search for a just, participatory, and sustainable society.

One of Roger Hutchinson’s many notable accomplishments is his development of a method of dialogue for ethical clarification in situations of diversity. Some of the essays collected here apply this method to specific issues, while others discuss how religious persons and organizations can and do co-operate in a pluralistic world to achieve social and ecological well-being. All essays are of keen interest to those concerned with the role and function of ethics at the matrix of religious conviction and social transformation.

For nearly three decades Roger Hutchinson has been based at Victoria University in Toronto, first in religious studies, then at Emmanuel College, where he completed his teaching career as professor of church and society while serving as principal from 1996 to 2001.

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Double Vision

Moral Philosophy and Shakespearean Drama

Tzachi Zamir

Hamlet tells Horatio that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in his philosophy. In Double Vision, philosopher and literary critic Tzachi Zamir argues that there are more things in Hamlet than are dreamt of--or at least conceded--by most philosophers. Making an original and persuasive case for the philosophical value of literature, Zamir suggests that certain important philosophical insights can be gained only through literature. But such insights cannot be reached if literature is deployed merely as an aesthetic sugaring of a conceptual pill. Philosophical knowledge is not opposed to, but is consonant with, the literariness of literature. By focusing on the experience of reading literature as literature and not philosophy, Zamir sets a theoretical framework for a philosophically oriented literary criticism that will appeal both to philosophers and literary critics.

Double Vision is concerned with the philosophical understanding induced by the aesthetic experience of literature. Literary works can function as credible philosophical arguments--not ones in which claims are conclusively demonstrated, but in which claims are made plausible. Such claims, Zamir argues, are embedded within an experiential structure that is itself a crucial dimension of knowing. Developing an account of literature's relation to knowledge, morality, and rhetoric, and advancing philosophical-literary readings of Richard III, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, and King Lear, Zamir shows how his approach can open up familiar texts in surprising and rewarding ways.

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Dragon in the Tropics

The Legacy of Hugo Chávez

introduction by Cheng Li. foreword by John L. Thornton. Huaihong He

Over the past half-century, China has experienced some incredible human dramas, ranging from Red Guard fanaticism and the loss of education for an entire generation during the Cultural Revolution, to the Tiananmen tragedy, the economic miracle, and its accompanying fad of money worship and the rampancy of official corruption. Social Ethics in a Changing China: Moral Decay or Ethical Awakening? provides a rich empirical narrative and thought-provoking scholarly arguments, highlighting the imperative for an ethical discourse in a country that is increasingly seen by many as both a materialistic giant and a spiritual dwarf.

Professor He Huaihong was not only an extraordinary firsthand witness to all of these dramas, he played a distinct role as a historian, an ethicist, and a social critic exploring the deeper intellectual and sociological origins of these events. Incorporating ethical theories with his expertise in culture, history, religion, literature, and politics of the country, He reviews the remarkable transformation of ethics and morality in the People's Republic of China and engages in a global discourse about the major ethical issues of our time. The book aims to reconstruct Chinese social ethics in an innovative philosophical framework, reflecting China's search for new virtues.

Contents

1. Reconstructing China's Social Ethics

2. Historical and Sociological Origins of Chinese Cultural Norms

3. The Transformation of Ethics and Morality in the PRC

4. China's Ongoing Moral Decay?

5. Ethical Discourse in Reform Era China

6. Chinese Ethical Dialogue with the West and the World

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Eating Anxiety

The Perils of Food Politics

Chad Lavin


Debates about obesity are really about the meaning of responsibility. The trend toward local foods reflects the changing nature of space due to new communication technologies. Vegetarian theory capitalizes on biotechnology’s challenge to the meaning of species. And food politics, as this book makes powerfully clear, is actually about the political anxieties surrounding globalization.


In Eating Anxiety, Chad Lavin argues that our culture’s obsession with diet, obesity, meat, and local foods enacts ideological and biopolitical responses to perceived threats to both individual and national sovereignty. Using the occasion of eating to examine assumptions about identity, objectivity, and sovereignty that underwrite so much political order, Lavin explains how food functions to help structure popular and philosophical understandings of the world and the place of humans within it. He introduces the concept of digestive subjectivity and shows how this offers valuable resources for rethinking cherished political ideals surrounding knowledge, democracy, and power.


Exploring discourses of food politics, Eating Anxiety links the concerns of food—especially issues of sustainability, public health, and inequality—to the evolution of the world order and the possibilities for democratic rule. It forces us to question the significance of consumerist politics and—simultaneously—the relationship between politics and ethics, public and private.


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Ecological Ethics and the Human Soul

Aquinas, Whitehead, and the Metaphysics of Creation

Francisco J. Benzoni

In Ecological Ethics and the Human Soul: Aquinas, Whitehead, and the Metaphysics of Value, Francisco J. Benzoni addresses the pervasive and destructive view that there is a moral gulf between human beings and other creatures. Thomas Aquinas, whose metaphysics entails such a moral gulf, holds that human beings are ultimately separate from nature. Alfred North Whitehead, in contrast, maintains that human beings are continuous with the rest of nature. These different metaphysical systems demand different ethical stances toward creation. Benzoni analyzes and challenges Thomas's understanding of the human soul, his primary justification for the moral separation, arguing that it is finally philosophically untenable. The author finds promising the alternative metaphysics of Whitehead, for whom human beings are a part of nature—even if the highest part; all creatures have a degree of subjectivity and creativity, and thus all have intrinsic value and moral worth, independent of subjective human valuation. Further, though there is difference, there is no moral gulf between God and the world. God is truly affected by the experience of creatures. Benzoni argues that if this vision of moral worth is articulated with sufficient force and clarity, it could help heal the human relation to our planet.

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Ecstatic Morality and Sexual Politics

A Catholic and Antitotalitarian Theory of the Body

Graham McAleer

This first book-length treatment of Thomas Aquinas'stheory of the body presents a Catholic understandingof the body and its implications for social and politicalphilosophy. Making a fundamental contribution toantitotalitarian theory, McAleer argues that a sexual politicsreliant upon Aquinas's theory of the body is better (becauseless violent) than other commonly available theories.He contrasts this theory with those of four other groupsof thinkers: the continental tradition represented by Kant,Schopenhauer, Merleau-Ponty, Nancy, Levinas, and Deleuze;feminism, in the work of Donna Haraway; an alternativeCatholic theory to be found in Karl Rahner; and theRadical Orthodoxyof John Milbank.

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Edmund Burke for Our Time

Moral Imagination, Meaning, and Politics

This highly readable book offers a contemporary interpretation of the political thought of Edmund Burke, drawing on his experiences to illuminate and address fundamental questions of politics and society that are of particular interest today. For Burke, one’s imaginative context provides meaning and is central to judgment and behavior. Many of Burke’s ideas can be brought together around his concept of the “moral imagination,” which has received little systematic treatment in the context of Burke’s own experience. In Edmund Burke for Our Time, Byrne asserts that Burke’s politics is reflective of unique and sophisticated ideas about how people think and learn and about determinants of political behavior. Burke’s thought is shown to offer much of contemporary value regarding the sources of order and meaning and the potential for a modern crisis if those sources are weakened or obscured. In addition to providing a re-interpretation of Burke’s response to a number of historical situations—including problems of colonial or imperial policy with regard to India, Ireland, and America—Byrne looks at the relationship between emotion and reason, and the role of culture in shaping political, social, and personal behaviors. To assist even readers with limited knowledge of Burke, the book includes biographical and historical information to provide needed context. Byrne’s important study will appeal to political philosophers, literature scholars, and those interested in addressing problems of politics and society in this late-modern age.groundbreaking study of the Protestant Left is a welcome addition. Embattled Ecumenism will appeal to scholars of U.S. religion, politics, and culture, as well as historians of evangelicalism and general readers interested in U.S. history and religion.

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Elements of African Bioethics in a Western Frame

For millennia, Africans have lived on the African continent, in close contact with the diversities of nature: floral, faunal and human; and in so doing they have developed cultures, values, attitudes and perspectives to the problems, ethical and otherwise, that have arisen from the existential pressures of their situation. The problem, however, is that such values and perspectives do not necessarily form coherent ethical theories. Theory-making is a second order activity requiring a certain amount of leisure and comfort which the existential conditions of life on the African continent have not easily permitted in the retrospect-able past. The elements of African bioethics are to be found in its cultural values, traditions, customs and practices. These are research-able, highlight-able and usable by those who would. The bioethical problems of our current global existential situation are such that all possible solutions, no matter their provenance, ought to be tried. Western culture†has far too loud a voice combined with deaf ears in contemporary ethical discourse. But it should never be forgotten that other cultures†have their own word to say and that alternative values, ways of thinking and practices exist, and attempt should always be made to bring these out and to highlight them, if they could possibly contribute to the satisfactory solution of a global problem. This book brings together various papers on bioethical issues and problems, written at different times, some previously published, each of which attempts to bring out some African†elements, perspective or concern. The African narrative style predominates through these essays but their framing conforms, more or less, to the Western paradigm for presenting academic issues.

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