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Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought
Examines the early works of German-Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973). Praised as a major political thinker of the twentieth century and vilified as the putative godfather of contemporary neoconservatism, Leo Strauss (1899–1973) has been the object of heated controversy both in the United States and abroad. This book offers a more balanced appraisal by focusing on Strauss’s early writings. By means of a close and comprehensive study of these texts, David Janssens reconstructs the genesis of Strauss’s thought from its earliest beginnings until his emigration to the United States in 1937. He discusses the first stages in Strauss’s grappling with the “theological-political problem,” from his doctoral dissertation on Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi to his contributions to Zionist periodicals, from his groundbreaking study of Spinoza’s critique of religion to his research on Moses Mendelssohn, and from his rediscovery of medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy to his research on Hobbes. Throughout, Janssens traces Strauss’s rediscovery of the Socratic way of life as a viable alternative to both modern philosophy and revealed religion.
Metaphor's Metaphysical Neighborhood
Plato's chora as developed in the Timaeus is a creative matrix in which things arise and stand out in response to the lure of the Good. Chora is paired with the Good, its polar opposite; both are beyond beingand the metaphors hitherto thought to disclose the transcendent. They underlie Plato's distinction of a procreative gap between being and becoming. The chiasmus between the Good and chora makes possible their mutual participation in one another. This gap makes possible both phenomenological and cosmological interpretations of Plato. Metaphor is restricted to beings as they appear in this gap through the crossing of metaphor's terms, terms that dwell with, rather than subulate, one another. Hermeneutically, through its iswe can see something being engendered or determined by that crossing.Bigger's larger goal is to align the primacy of the Good in Plato and Christian Neoplatonism with the creator God of Genesis and the God of love in the New Testament.
The Practice of Religious Studies
This book provides philosophical grounds for an emerging area of scholarship: the study of religion and dance. In the first part, LaMothe investigates why scholars in religious studies have tended to overlook dance, or rhythmic bodily movement, in favor of textual expressions of religious life. In close readings of Descartes, Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, and Kierkegaard, LaMothe traces this attitude to formative moments of the field in which philosophers relied upon the practice of writing to mediate between the study of religion,on the one hand, and theology,on the other.In the second part, LaMothe revives the work of theologian, phenomenologist, and historian of religion Gerardus van der Leeuw for help in interpreting how dancing can serve as a medium of religious experience and expression. In so doing, LaMothe opens new perspectives on the role of bodily being in religious life, and on the place of theology in the study of religion.
The Hermeneutics of Gianni Vattimo
Essays describe Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo’s unique and radical hermeneutic philosophy. This is the first collection of essays in English that deals directly with the philosophy of Gianni Vattimo from a purely critical perspective, further establishing his rightful place in contemporary European philosophy. Vattimo, who first came to prominence as the translator of Gadamer’s Truth and Method into Italian, is now considered to be more than a philosopher and prolific author. As a former member of the European Parliament (1999–2004), he is also a public intellectual. This book takes up his call to advance the crucial active and affirmative engagement with thinking and society. More than just interpretations of Vattimo’s thinking, these essays are expressions of the new impetus given to hermeneutic philosophy by “weak thought,” the term he coined for how we think now in the wake of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Gadamer. The development of Vattimo’s thinking is reflected in the organization of the volume, divided into three main parts: Hermeneutics and Nihilism, Metaphysics and Religion, and Politics and Technology.
Habermas and the Idea of Progress
Between Reason and History examines the role of the idea of progress both in Ju¬rgen Habermas’s critical social theory and in critical social theory in general. The reception to Habermas’s magnum opus, The Theory of Communicative Action, has tended to downplay the theory of social evolution it contains, but there are no in-depth examinations of this aspect of Habermas’s critical theory. This book fills this gap by providing a comprehensive and detailed examination of Habermas’s theory of social evolution, its significance within the wider scope of his critical social theory, and the importance of a theoretical understanding of history for any adequate critical social theory.
Philosophy and American Slavery
Using the writings of slaves and former slaves, as well as commentaries on slavery, Between Slavery and Freedom explores the American slave experience to gain a better understanding of six moral and political concepts—oppression, paternalism, resistance, political obligation, citizenship, and forgiveness. The authors use analytical philosophy as well as other disciplines to gain insight into the thinking of a group of people prevented from participating in the social/political discourse of their times.
Between Slavery and Freedom rejects the notion that philosophers need not consider individual experience because philosophy is "impartial" and "universal." A philosopher should also take account of matters that are essentially perspectival, such as the slave experience. McGary and Lawson demonstrate the contribution of all human experience, including slave experiences, to the quest for human knowledge and understanding.
The Ethical Nature of the Arts in Hegelian Aesthetics
Between Transcendence and Historicism explores Hegel’s aesthetics within the larger context of the tradition of theoretical reflection to emphasize its unique ability to account for traditional artistic practice. Arguing that the concept of the ethical is central to Hegel’s philosophy of art, Brian K. Etter examines the poverty of modernist aesthetic theories in contrast to the affirmation by Hegel of the necessity of art. He focuses on the individual arts in greater detail than is normally done for Hegel’s aesthetics, and considers how the dual constitution of the ethical nature of art can be justified, both within Hegel’s own philosophical system and in terms of its relevance to the dilemmas of modern social life. Etter concludes that the arts have a responsibility to represent the goodness of existence, the ideal, and the ethical life in dignifying the metaxological realm through their beauty.
Heidegger, Klee, and Gadamer on Gesture and Genesis
Engagement with the image has played a decisive role in the formulation of the very idea of philosophy since Plato. Identifying pivotal moments in the history of philosophy, Dennis J. Schmidt develops the question of philosophy's regard of the image in thinking by considering painting—where the image most clearly calls attention to itself as an image. Focusing on Heidegger and the work of Paul Klee, Schmidt pursues larger issues in the relationship between word, image, and truth. As he investigates alternative ways of thinking about truth through word and image, Schmidt shows how the form of art can indeed possess the capacity to change its viewers.
The Sacred Quest for Confusion
Why do we travel? Ostensibly an act of leisure, travel finds us thrusting ourselves into jets flying miles above the earth, only to endure dislocations of time and space, foods and languages foreign to our body and mind, and encounters with strangers on whom we must suddenly depend. Travel is not merely a break from routine; it is its antithesis, a voluntary trading in of the security one feels at home for unpredictability and confusion. In Bewildered Travel Frederick Ruf argues that this confusion, which we might think of simply as a necessary evil, is in fact the very thing we are seeking when we leave home.
Ruf relates this quest for confusion to our religious behavior. Citing William James, who defined the religious as what enables us to "front life," Ruf contends that the search for bewilderment allows us to point our craft into the wind and sail headlong into the storm rather than flee from it. This view challenges the Eliadean tradition that stresses religious ritual as a shield against the world’s chaos. Ruf sees our departures from the familiar as a crucial component in a spiritual life, reminding us of the central role of pilgrimage in religion.
In addition to his own revealing experiences as a traveler, Ruf presents the reader with the journeys of a large and diverse assortment of notable Americans, including Henry Miller, Paul Bowles, Mark Twain, Mary Oliver, and Walt Whitman. These accounts take us from the Middle East to the Philippines, India to Nicaragua, Mexico to Morocco--and, in one threatening instance, simply to the edge of the author’s own neighborhood. "What gives value to travel is fear," wrote Camus. This book illustrates the truth of that statement.