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Levinas, Marcel, and the Contemporary Debate
Every other is truly other, but no other is wholly other.This is the claim that Aspects of Alterity defends. Taking up the question of otherness that so fascinates contemporary continental philosophy, this book asks what it means for something or someone to be other than the self. Levinas and those influenced by him point out that the philosophical tradition of the West has generally favored the self at the expense of the other. Such a self-centered perspective never encounters the other qua other, however. In response, postmodern thought insists on the absolute otherness of the other, epitomized by the deconstructive claim every other is wholly other.But absolute otherness generates problems and aporias of its own. This has led some thinkers to reevaluate the notion of relative otherness in light of the postmodern critique, arguing for a chiastic account that does justice to both the alterity and the similitude of the other. These latter two positions-absolute otherness and a rehabilitated account of relative otherness-are the main contenders in the contemporary debate.The philosophies of Emmanuel Levinas and Gabriel Marcel provide the point of embarkation for coming to understand the two positions on this question. Levinas and Marcel were contemporaries whose philosophies exhibit remarkably similar concern for the other but nevertheless remain fundamentally incompatible. Thus, these two thinkers provide a striking illustration of both the proximity of and the unbridgeable gap between two accounts of otherness.Aspects of Alterity delves into this debate, first in order understand the issues at stake in these two positions and second to determine which description better accounts for the experience of encountering the other.After a thorough assessment and critique of otherness in Levinas's and Marcel's work, including a discussion of the relationship of ethical alterity to theological assumptions, Aspects of Alterity traces the transmission and development of these two conceptions of otherness. Levinas's version of otherness can be seen in the work of Jacques Derrida and John D. Caputo, while Marcel's understanding of otherness influences the work of Paul Ricoeur and Richard Kearney.Ultimately, Aspects of Alterity makes a case for a hermeneutic account of otherness. Otherness itself is not absolute, but is a chiasm of alterity and similitude. Properly articulated, such an account is capable of addressing the legitimate ethical and epistemological concerns that lead thinkers to construe otherness in absolute terms, but without the absolute aporiasthat accompany such a characterization.
From "Brilliant Errors" to Things of Uncommon Importance
James V. Schall presents, in a convincing and articulate manner, the revelational contribution to political philosophy, particularly that which comes out of the Roman Catholic tradition.
Confessions and Circumfession
At the heart of the current surge of interest in religion among contemporary Continental philosophers stands Augustine's Confessions. With Derrida's Circumfession constantly in the background, this volume takes up the provocative readings of Augustine by Heidegger, Lyotard, Arendt, and Ricoeur. Derrida himself presides over and comments on essays by major Continental philosophers and internationally recognized Augustine scholars. While studies on and about Augustine as a philosopher abound, none approach his work from such a uniquely postmodern point of view, showing both the continuing relevance of Augustine and the religious resonances within postmodernism. Posed at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and religious studies, this book will be of interest to scholars and students of Augustine as well as those interested in the invigorating discussion between philosophy, religion, and postmodernism.
Contributors include Geoffrey Bennington, Philippe Capelle, John D. Caputo, Elizabeth A. Clark, Hent de Vries, Jacques Derrida, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Richard Kearney, Catherine Malabou, James O'Donnell, Michael J. Scanlon, and Mark Vessey.
Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion -- Merold Westphal, general editor
Revising a Classical Ideal
Augustine and the Cure of Souls situates Augustine within the ancient philosophical tradition of using words to order emotions. Paul Kolbet uncovers a profound continuity in Augustine’s thought, from his earliest pre-baptismal writings to his final acts as bishop, revealing a man deeply indebted to the Roman past and yet distinctly Christian. Rather than supplanting his classical learning, Augustine’s Christianity reinvigorated precisely those elements of Roman wisdom that he believed were slipping into decadence. In particular, Kolbet addresses the manner in which Augustine not only used classical rhetorical theory to express his theological vision, but also infused it with theological content. This book offers a fresh reading of Augustine’s writings—particularly his numerous, though often neglected, sermons—and provides an accessible point of entry into the great North African bishop’s life and thought.
An Introspective Philosophy
Augustine's Love of Wisdom is an analytical and interpretive focus on the first thirty chapters of book ten of Augustine's Autobiographical Confessions. Bourke provides a rich synthesis of key tenets of Augustine's psychology in the context of his philosophical system and selects the most intensive writing of Augustine on the intricacies of the human psyche, providing the reader with insight on an Augustinian explanatory method, introspection.
Newcomers to Rousseau's works and those who are familiar with his writings will find something to surprise them both in this wide variety of short pieces from every period of his life.
Among the important theoretical writings found here are the "Fiction or Allegorical Fragment on Revelation" and the "Moral Letters," which are among Rousseau's clearest statements about the nature and limits of philosophic reasoning. In the early "Idea of a Method for the Composition of a Book," Rousseau lays out in advance his understanding of how to present his ideas to the public. He ponders the possibilities for and consequences of air travel in "The New Daedalus." This volume also contains both his first and last autobiographical statements.
Some of these writings show Rousseau's lesser-known playful side. A comic fairy tale, "Queen Whimsical", explores the consequences--both serious and ridiculous--for a kingdom when the male heir to the throne, endowed with the frivolous characteristics of his mother, has a sister with all the characteristics of a good monarch. When Rousseau was asked whether a fifty-year old man could write love letters to a young woman without appearing ridiculous, he responded with "Letters to Sophie," which attempt to demonstrate that such a man could write as many as four--but not as many as six--letters before he became a laughingstock. In "The Banterer," he challenges readers to guess whether the work they are reading was written by an author who is "wisely mad" or by one who is "madly wise." When Rousseau was challenged to write a merry tale, "without intrigue, without love, without marriage, and without lewdness," he produced a work considered too daring to be published in France.
Self-Governance and the Modern Subject
Autonomy is a vital concept in much of modern theory, defining the Subject as capable of self-governance. Democratic theory relies on the concept of autonomy to provide justification for participatory government and the normative goal of democratic governance, which is to protect the ability of the individual to self-govern.
Offering the first examination of the concept of autonomy from a postfoundationalist perspective, The Autonomous Animal analyzes how the ideal of self-governance has shaped everyday life. Claire E. Rasmussen begins by considering the academic terrain of autonomy, then focusing on specific examples of political behavior that allow her to interrogate these theories. She demonstrates how the adolescent—a not-yet-autonomous subject—highlights how the ideal of self-governance generates practices intended to cultivate autonomy by forming the individual’s relationship to his or her body. She points up how the war on drugs rests on the perception that drug addicts are the antithesis of autonomy and thus must be regulated for their own good. Showing that the animal rights movement may challenge the distinction between human and animal, Rasmussen also examines the place of the endurance athlete in fitness culture, where self-management of the body is the exemplar of autonomous subjectivity.
Revolution in the Ethics of Warfare
Awakening Warrior argues for a revolution in the ethics of warfare for the American War Machine—those political and military institutions that engage the world with physical force. Timothy L. Challans focuses on the systemic, institutional level of morality rather than bemoaning the moral shortcomings of individuals. He asks: What are the limits of individual moral agency? What kind of responsibility do individuals have when considering institutional moral error? How is it that neutral or benign moral actions performed by individuals can have such catastrophic morally negative effects from a systemic perspective? Drawing upon and extending the ethical theories of Kant, Dewey, and Rawls, Challans makes the case for an original set of moral principles to guide ethical action on the battlefield. “…[Challans’s] call for reformation combined with a demand for a new set of moral principles to govern the ethical behavior on the battlefield is certain to garner the attention and ire of many readers and military leaders.” — Parameters “This is an important book that needs to be read and taken seriously. If it is, it could be as revolutionary as its subtitle suggests.” — CHOICE