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Philosophies of Embodiment
Issues surrounding birth and death have been fundamental for Western philosophy as well as for individual existence. The contributors to this volume unravel the gendered aspects of the classical philosophical discourses on death, bringing in discussions about birth, creativity, and the entire chain of human activity. By linking their work to major thinkers such as Heidegger, Nietzsche, Beauvoir, and Arendt, and to major philosophical currents such as ancient philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology, and social and political philosophy, they challenge prevailing feminist articulations of birth and death. These philosophical reflections add an important sexual dimension to current thinking on identity, temporality, and community.
Friedrich von Hardenberg's Journal of 1797, with Selected Letters and Documents
Friedrich von Hardenberg, who later became known as the poet Novalis, kept a journal between April and July 1797 that captured his moods, thoughts, and observations following the death of his fifteen-year-old fiancée Sophie von Kühn and his dearly loved younger brother Erasmus. The journal’s short, day-to-day entries allow a frank and candid glimpse into the inner life of the maturing poet, and are complemented by selections from Hardenberg’s letters. Taken together, and read in conjunction with the fragments written before, during, and shortly after this period of time, the journal and letters shed light on a process of self-discovery during which Hardenberg became convinced of his poetic vocation and acknowledged this conviction in an act of self-christening, as the poet Novalis.
Learning Socratic Lessons of Disillusion and Renewal
Thomas Eisele explores the premise that the Socratic method of inquiry need not teach only negative lessons (showing us what we do not know, but not what we do know). Instead, Eisele contends, the Socratic method is cyclical: we start negatively by recognizing our illusions, but end positively through a process of recollection performed in response to our disillusionment, which ultimately leads to renewal. Thus, a positive lesson about our resources as philosophical investigators, as students and teachers, becomes available to participants in Socrates’ robust conversational inquiry. Bitter Knowledge includes Eisele’s detailed readings of Socrates’ teaching techniques in three fundamental Platonic dialogues, Protagoras, Meno, and Theaetetus, as well as his engagement with contemporary authorities such as Gregory Vlastos, Martha Nussbaum, and Stanley Cavell. Written in a highly engaging and accessible style, this book will appeal to students and scholars in philosophy, classics, law, rhetoric, and education.
The Career of William Fontaine
At a time when almost all African American college students attended black colleges, philosopher William Fontaine was the only black member of the University of Pennsylvania faculty—and quite possibly the only black member of any faculty in the Ivy League. Little is known about Fontaine, but his predicament was common to African American professionals and intellectuals at a critical time in the history of civil rights and race relations in the United States.
Black Philosopher, White Academy is at once a biographical sketch of a man caught up in the issues and the dilemmas of race in the middle of the last century; a portrait of a salient aspect of academic life then; and an intellectual history of a period in African American life and letters, the discipline of philosophy, and the American academy. It is also a meditation on the sources available to a practicing historian and, frustratingly, the sources that are not. Bruce Kuklick stays close to the slim packet of evidence left on Fontaine's life and career but also strains against its limitations to extract the largest possible insights into the life of the elusive Fontaine.
Daniela Vallega-Neu questions the ontological meaning of body and thinking by carefully taking into account how we come to experience thought bodily. She engages six prominent figures of the Western philosophical tradition—Plato, Nietzsche, Scheler, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, and Foucault—and considers how they understand thinking to occur in relation to the body as well as how their thinking is itself bodily. Through a deconstructive and performative reading, she explores how their thinking reveals a bodily dimension that is prior to what classical metaphysics comes to conceive as mind-body duality. Thus, Vallega-Neu uncovers the bodily dimension that sustains their thought and their work. As she contends, the trace of the body in our thought not only exposes the strangers we are to ourselves, but may also lead to a new understanding of how we come to be who we are in relation to the world we live in.
Science, Environment, and the Material Self
How do we understand the agency and significance of material forces and their interface with human bodies? What does it mean to be human in these times, with bodies that are inextricably interconnected with our physical world? Bodily Natures considers these questions by grappling with powerful and pervasive material forces and their increasingly harmful effects on the human body. Drawing on feminist theory, environmental studies, and the sciences, Stacy Alaimo focuses on trans-corporeality, or movement across bodies and nature, which has profoundly altered our sense of self. By looking at a broad range of creative and philosophical writings, Alaimo illuminates how science, politics, and culture collide, while considering the closeness of the human body to the environment.
Political Imagination in Kant and Foucault
Late in life, Foucault identified with “the critical tradition of Kant,” encouraging us to read both thinkers in new ways. Kant’s “Copernican” strategy of grounding knowledge in the limits of human reason proved to stabilize political, social-scientific, and medical expertise as well as philosophical discourse. These inevitable limits were made concrete in historical structures such as the asylum, the prison, and the sexual or racial human body. Such institutions built upon and shaped the aesthetic judgment of those considered “normal.” Following Kant through all of Foucault’s major works, this book shows how bodies functioned as “problematic objects” in which the limits of post-Enlightenment European power and discourse were imaginatively figured and unified. It suggests ways that readers in a neoliberal political order can detach from the imaginative schemes vested in their bodies and experiment normatively with their own security needs.
Natural Philosophy in England, 1550-1600
Ranging from alchemy to necromancy, books of secrets? offered medieval readers an affordable and accessible collection of knowledge about the natural world. Allison Kaveys study traces the cultural relevance of these books and also charts their influence on the people who read them. Citing the importance of printers in choosing the books contents, she points out how these books legitimized manipulating nature, thereby expanding cultural categories, such as masculinity, femininity, gentleman, lady, and midwife, to include the willful command of the natural world.
The Passion of an Endless Quotation
Borges cites innumerable authors in the pages making up his life’s work, and innumerable authors have cited and continue to cite him. More than a figure, then, the quotation is an integral part of the fabric of his writing, a fabric made anew by each reading and each re-citation it undergoes, in the never-ending throes of a work-in-progress. Block de Behar makes of this reading a plea for the very art of communication; a practice that takes community not in the totalized and totalizable soil of pre-established definitions or essences, but on the ineluctable repetitions that constitute language as such, and that guarantee the expansiveness—through etymological coincidences of meaning, through historical contagions, through translinguistic sharings of particular experiences—of a certain index of universality.