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Miller's Metaphysics of Democracy
The ancient antagonism between the active and the contemplative lives is taken up in this innovative and wide-ranging examination of John William Miller’s effort to forge a metaphysics of democracy. The Active Life sheds new light on Miller’s actualist philosophy—its scope, its systematic character, and its dialectical form. Michael J. McGandy persuasively sets Miller’s actualism in the context of Hannah Arendt’s understanding of the active life and skillfully presents actualism as a response to Whitman’s challenge to craft a democratic form of metaphysics. McGandy concludes that Miller reveals how the philosophical and the political are inextricably connected, how there is no active life without the contemplative life, and that the contemplative life is founded in the active life.
At a time of great and increasing interest in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, this volume draws readers into what Levinas described as "philosophy itself" "a discourse always addressed to another." Thus the philosopher himself provides the thread that runs through these essays on his writings, one guided by the importance of the fact of being addressed the significance of the Saying much more than the Said. The authors, leading Levinas scholars and interpreters from across the globe, explore the philosopher's relationship to a wide range of intellectual traditions, including theology, philosophy of culture, Jewish thought, phenomenology, and the history of philosophy. They also engage Levinas's contribution to ethics, politics, law, justice, psychoanalysis and epistemology, among other themes.
The Convent Philosophy of Port-Royal
In seventeenth-century France, southwest of Paris, the Port-Royal convent became the center of the Jansenist movement and of its adherents’ resistance to church and throne. Three abbesses from the Arnauld family spearheaded this resistance: Mère Angélique Arnauld (1591-1661), Mère Agnès Arnauld (1593-1671), and Mère Angélique de Saint-Jean Arnauld d'Andilly (1624-1684). Although many books have been written about the tragic lives of the Port-Royal nuns, John J. Conley provides the first study of the radical Augustinian philosophy developed by these remarkable abbesses during decades of persecution by Louis XIV and his ecclesiastical allies. Openly declaring themselves “disciples of Saint Augustine,” the Arnauld abbesses forged a philosophy notable for its original treatment of the attributes that stressed divine otherness; a moral philosophy of virtue rooted in grace; and a politics that supported the right of women to resist abuses of religious and civil authority. Although their philosophy was clearly influenced by their male Jansenist mentors, the nuns’ radical Augustinianism maintains its own gendered originality: their philosophy of virtue is closely tied to practices valued in a contemplative convent setting; their defense of freedom of conscience is linked to their defense of women’s right to exercise religious authority; and their negative theology, focused on divine incomprehensibility, depicts a God beyond sexual difference. A fascinating account that includes translations ranging from abbatial conferences to private letters, Adoration and Annihilation is an important chronicle of the doctrinal battles of early modern Catholicism.
The Deconstruction of Christianity II
Adoration is the second volume of the Deconstruction of Christianity, following Dis-Enclosure. The first volume attempted to demonstrate why it is necessary to open reason up not to a religious dimension but to one transcending reason as we have been accustomed to understanding it; the term "adoration" attempts to name the gesture of this dis-enclosed reason. Adoration causes us to receive ignorance as truth: not a feigned ignorance, perhaps not even a "nonknowledge," nothing that would attempt to justify the negative again, but the simple, naked truth that there is nothing in the place of God, because there is no place for God. The outside of the world opens us in the midst of the world, and there is no first or final place. Each one of us is at once the first and the last. Each one, each name. And our ignorance is made worse by the fact that we do not know whether we ought to name this common and singular property of all names. We must remain in this suspense, hesitating between and stammering in various possible languages, ultimately learning to speak anew. In this book, Jean-Luc Nancy goes beyond his earlier historical and philosophical thought and tries to think-or at least crack open a little to thinking-a stance or bearing that might be suitable to the retreat of God that results from the self-deconstruction of Christianity. Adoration may be a manner, a style of spirit for our time, a time when the "spiritual" seems to have become so absent, so dry, so adulterated. The book is a major contribution to the important strand of attempts to think a "post-secular" situation of religion.
“For those inclined to dismiss Adorno’s take on America as the uncomprehending condescension of a mandarin elitist, David Jenemann’s splendid new book will come as a rude awakening. Exploiting a wealth of new sources, he persuasively shows the depth of Adorno’s engagement with the culture industry and the complexity of his reaction to it.” —Martin Jay, Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
The German philosopher and cultural critic Theodor W. Adorno was one of the towering intellectual figures of the twentieth century, and between 1938 and 1953 he lived in exile in the United States. In the first in-depth account of this period of Adorno’s life, David Jenemann examines Adorno’s confrontation with the burgeoning American “culture industry” and casts new light on Adorno’s writings about the mass media. Contrary to the widely held belief—even among his defenders—that Adorno was disconnected from America and disdained its culture, Jenemann reveals that Adorno was an active and engaged participant in cultural and intellectual life during these years.
From the time he first arrived in New York in 1938 to work for the Princeton Radio Research Project, exploring the impact of radio on American society and the maturing marketing strategies of the national radio networks, Adorno was dedicated to understanding the technological and social influence of popular art in the United States. Adorno carried these interests with him to Hollywood, where he and Max Horkheimer attempted to make a film for their Studies in Prejudice Project and where he befriended Thomas Mann and helped him craft his famous novel Doctor Faustus. Shuttling between insightful readings of Adorno’s theories and a rich body of archival materials—including unpublished writings and FBI files—Jenemann paints a portrait of Adorno’s years in New York and Los Angeles and tells the cultural history of an America coming to grips with its rapidly evolving mass culture.
Adorno in America eloquently and persuasively argues for a more complicated, more intimate relationship between Adorno and American society than has ever been previously acknowledged. What emerges is not only an image of an intellectual in exile, but ultimately a rediscovery of Adorno as a potent defender of a vital and intelligent democracy.
David Jenemann is assistant professor of English at the University of Vermont.
Adventures in Philosophy at Notre Dame recounts the fascinating history of the University of Notre Dame's Department of Philosophy, chronicling the challenges, difficulties, and tensions that accompanied its transition from an obscure outpost of scholasticism in the 1940s into one of the more distinguished philosophy departments in the world today. Its author, Kenneth Sayre, who has been a faculty member for over five decades, focuses on the people of the department, describing what they were like, how they got along with each other, and how their personal predilections and ambitions affected the affairs of the department overall. The book follows the department’s transition from its early Thomism to the philosophical pluralism of the 1970s, then traces its drift from pluralism to what Sayre terms "professionalism,” resulting in what some perceive as a severance from its Catholic roots by the turn of the century. Each chapter includes an extensive biography of an especially prominent department member, along with biographical sketches of other philosophers arriving during the period it covers. Central to the story overall are the charismatic Irishmen Ernan McMullin and Ralph McInerny, whose interaction dominated affairs in the department in the 1960s and 1970s, and who continued to exercise major roles in the following decades. Philosophers throughout the English-speaking world will find Adventures in Philosophy at Notre Dame essential reading. The book will also appeal to readers interested in the history of the University of Notre Dame and of American higher education generally.
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.
The Appearance of Things
Connecting aesthetic experience with our experience of nature or with other cultural artifacts, Aesthetics as Phenomenology focuses on what art means for cognition, recognition, and affect—how art changes our everyday disposition or behavior. Günter Figal engages in a penetrating analysis of the moment at which, in our contemplation of a work of art, reaction and thought confront each other. For those trained in the visual arts and for more casual viewers, Figal unmasks art as a decentering experience that opens further possibilities for understanding our lives and our world.
"Not since Thoreau has an American author displayed such a profound appreciation for the aesthetics of nature; but, unlike Thoreau, Berleant has designed a program for allowing others to join in on that appreciation." â€”E. F. Kaelin, Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University Environmental aesthetics is an emerging discipline that explores the meaning and influence of environmental perception and experience on human life. Arguing for the idea that environment is not merely a setting for people but fully integrated and continuous with us, Arnold Berleant explores the aesthetic dimensions of the human-environment continuum in both theoretical terms and concrete situations. Insisting on the need to reconceptualize environment and recognize its aesthetic implications, he pursues a variety of topics and approaches to environmental aesthetics. Aesthetic experience, maintains Berleant, is always contextual. Recognizing that humans, along with all other things, inhabit a single intraconnected realm, he names the quality of engagement as the foremost characteristic of environmental perception. Berleant moves from natural to nonnatural environments, suggesting that the aesthetic aspect of any human habitat is an essential part of its desirability. From outer space to the museum, from architecture to landscape, from city to wilderness, this book discovers in the aesthetic perception of environment the reciprocity that constitutes both person and place. "Arnold Berleant's Aesthetics of Environment poses an important path for philosophy to walk downâ€”instead of environmental ethics, where what is right and wrong in nature is discussed, he goes after the difficult destination of deciding how to articulate what is beautiful in the nature we want, not the nature we see." â€”Human Ecology Review "Berleant's new environmental aesthetics is a challenge not only to the philosophers but also to the practitioners of environment-making. With rich illustrations and freedom from technical jargon, Berleant applies his new aesthetics to analyzing and solving the practical problems concerning various environmental designs of today." â€”Canadian Philosophical Review "A pioneering contribution to this discipline. It raises a large number of challenging questions and suggests new dirrections in the analysis of the environment as an aesthetic category." â€”Michael H. Mutias, Professor of Philosophy, Millsaps College