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In The Age of Milton and the Scientific Revolution, Angelica Duran reveals the way in which Milton’s works interacted with the revolutionary work of his contemporaries in science to participate in the dynamic “advancement of learning” of the time period. Bringing together primary materials by early modern scientists, including Robert Boyle, William Gilbert, William Harvey, Isaac Newton, John Ray, and John Wilkins as well as educational reformers such as Samuel Hartlib and Henry Oldenburg, The Age of Milton and the Scientific Revolution positions Milton’s literature as a coequal partner with the new cosmological theories, mathematical developments, telescopes, and scientific tracts that so thoroughly affected every aspect of recorded life in seventeenth century England. Duran shows, for example, how new developments in ornithology worked to shape the Lady’s power in the young Milton’s celebratory A Mask, how mathematics informed the sexual relationship of Adam and Eve in his mature epic Paradise Lost, and how developments in optics transformed the blinded hero of the blind author’s moving tragedy Samson Agonistes. While this study is indebted to the work of historians of science—from C. P. Snow and Thomas Kuhn to Stephen Shapin and Stephen Jay Gould—it is not a history of science per se, but rather a cultural study that appreciates poetry as a unique lens through which early modern England’s large-scale developments in education and science are clarified and reflected. What emerges is an intimate sense of how the enormous changes of the English Scientific Revolution affected individual lives and found their ways into Milton’s enduring poetry and prose.
Levinas and the Ethics of Communication
By Way of Interruption presents a radically different way of thinking about communication ethics. While modern communication thought has traditionally viewed successful communication as ethically favorable, Pinchevski proposes the contrary: that ethical communication does not ultimately lie in the successful completion of communication but rather in its interruption; that is, in instances where communication falls short, goes astray, or even fails. Such interruptions, however, do not mark the end of the relationship, but rather its very beginning, for within this interruption communication faces the challenge of alterity. Drawing mainly on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, Pinchevski explores the status of alterity in prevalent communication theories and Levinas’s philosophy of language and communication, especially his distinction between the Said and the Saying, and demonstrates the extent to which communication thought and practice have been preoccupied with the former while seeking to excommunicate the latter. With a strong interdisciplinary spirit, this book proposes an intellectual adventure of risk, uncertainty and the possibility of failure in thinking through the ethics of communication as experienced by an encounter with the other.
Written with the Fingers of Man's Hand
The complex relationship between the nation, Church of England, and the Jews reached an important culmination during the Reformation as Christian scholars became more and more interested in Hebrew language and the Jewish roots of European civilization. Christian Hebraism’s influence spread as a central focus in theology and politics, spurring the Geneva (1560) and the King James (1611) Bibles in particular. Within this context, Chanita Goodblatt reorients John Donne, one of the most prominent preachers and writers of the time, as a Christian Hebraist and examines the exegetical strategies and language in Donne’s psalms and sermons.
While Donne shows only a basic grasp of the Hebrew language, his sermons reveal the many semantic nuances taken from Latin and vernacular translations of Jewish biblical scholarship. Goodblatt lays out the intellectual context of Donne’s work and ties specific lexical, rhetorical, and thematic strategies to Hebrew traditions. Donne’s work weaves a web of intertextual complexities that highlight the interaction of Christian and Jewish scholarship that influenced the theological and political views of the time period. In addition, Donne’s reinterpretation of the Bible based on Jewish exegesis ultimately adds to an understanding of Christian Hebraism and establishes the Church of England as the inheritor of the Jewish tradition.
This study focuses on Donne’s sermons preached on the Psalms. Organized both generically and thematically, corresponding reproductions of the Hebrew Rabbinic (1525) and the Geneva Bible preface each chapter and allow the reader, regardless of specialization, to follow Goodblatt’s critical analyses.
An ardent admirer and student of Emmanuel Levinas during the last decade of the philosopher's life, Michaël de Saint Cheron sat down with his mentor for these interviews, conducted in 1983, 1992, and 1994. Throughout, their conversations provide further insight into the key concepts of responsibility, transcendence, holiness, and the hostage for understanding Levinas’s notion of ethics as first philosophy.
As Levinas and Saint Cheron discuss a variety of topics — death and time in the philosophies of Heidegger and Bergson, eros and the feminine, the Judeo-Christian dialogue, Levinas’s differences of thought with Paul Ricœur, reflections on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the “end of history” with the fall of Western Communism — we can clearly see Levinas’s ceaseless engagement with the justification for living after such horrors as those of Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Stalinism, Cambodia, or Rwanda.
Included here as well, following the interviews, are several essays in which Saint Cheron presents his own further considerations of their conversations and Levinas’s ideas. He writes of the relation of the epiphany of the face to the idea of holiness; of Sartre and, in particular, that existentialist thinker’s “revision” of Jews and Judaism in his final controversial dialogues with Benny Lévy; of the epiphanies of death in André Malraux’s writings; and of the radical breach effected in the Western philosophical tradition by Levinas’s “otherwise-than-thinking." Finally, Saint Cheron pays homage to Levinas’s talmudic readings in an analysis of forgiveness and the unforgivable in Jewish tradition and liturgy, culminating in an inevitable confrontation with the Shoah from the perspective of Simon Wiesenthal’s harrowing The Sunflower and some of the contemporary reactions to it.
Levinasian Ethics and Identity in Psychology
How does psychology attend to the question of “goodness”? Does the sense of self that modern psychologies promote help to orient persons toward ethical responsibility for the other person? In this book, David M. Goodman engages these questions, demonstrating that the prevalent discourse and constructs of the self in modern psychology not only fail to address such issues, but also contribute to the formation of a self lived without ethical regard for the other. In his penetrating and thought-provoking analysis of contemporary psychological theory and practice, Goodman critiques its “methodolatry” to scientific theory and emphasis on autonomous reason. Challenging the assumptions behind the naturalized, egological, and individualistic accounts of the self that dominate current approaches, he proposes an alternative by appealing to the philosophical work of Emmanuel Levinas. As Goodman indicates, Levinas’s phenomenology establishes an originary ethical attunement to the other, which precedes empirical and medical approaches to psychology that would consign ethics to a detached, secondary list of codes. Moving between historical analysis, illumination of contemporary psychological trends, and philosophical juxtapositions of Greek and Hebrew thought, Goodman demonstrates how the ethical dimension of human experience has too frequently been neglected within present constructs of the self and argues that Levinas’s demanded self serves as a radical corrective to the morally anemic definitions of the modern self. Ultimately, Goodman explains and details this countercultural version of the self—defined by its relation to the other and called into a “freedom born from responsibility”—and offers helpful corollary case studies and therapeutic practices that engender this sensibility. The Demanded Self provides a means of entering into the conversations taking place at the intersection of Levinas’s ethical theory, psychology, psychoanalysis, religion, and philosophy, and will appeal to scholars and advanced students in all of these fields.
Law, Government, and Religion
With this pioneering book, John T. Shawcross debunks a common assumption about what we see in Milton’s work: that Milton’s views remained unchanged over time. Shawcross systematically analyzes this belief in light of Milton’s vocation, social life, politics, and religion, and presents us with a Milton who, indeed, changes his mind.
The one constant in Milton’s writing and thought is that of faith in God, but the theology that underlies this unchanging faith—such as his views on the Trinity and God’s providence—develops through reflection and adverse experience, often yielding more defined ideas. Shawcross also traces the development of Milton’s concepts about political thought, attitudes toward the church, financial matters, the “people,” and gender, some of which result in complicated (and often unresolved) issues.
Shawcross’s presentation of a Milton whose thought does indeed develop and change—albeit with an unbending belief that faith and God supervene—is an essential contribution to Milton scholarship.
The Rhetoric of sacramental Devotion in Early Modern England
Combining theoretically engaged analyses with historically contextualized close readings, Divine Subjection posits new ways of understanding the relations between devotional literature and early English culture. Shifting the critical discussion from a “poetics” to a “rhetoric” of devotion, Kuchar considers how a broad range of devotional and metadevotional texts in Catholic and mainstream Protestant traditions register and seek to mitigate processes of desacralization—the loss of legible commerce between heavenly and earthly orders. This shift in critical focus makes clear the extent to which early modern devotional writing engages with some of the period’s most decisive theological conflicts and metaphysical crises. Kuchar places devotional writing alongside psychoanalytical and phenomenological theories and analyzes how religious and conceptual conflicts are registered in and accommodated by the predication of sacramental conceptions of the self. Through a devotional rhetoric based on context-specific uses of linguistic excessiveness, early modern devotional writers reimagined a form of sacramental identity that was triggered by, and structured in relation to, a divine Other whose desire preceded and exceeded one’s own. Through readings of works by Robert Southwell, Richard Crashaw, John Donne, Thomas Traherne and other lesser known authors, Divine Subjection explores how writers reimagined the sacramental continuity between divine and human orders amid a range of theological and philosophical conflicts. Kuchar thus examines how rhetoric of sacramental devotion works to construct ideal religious subjects within and against the broader experience of desacralization.
Texts and Contexts
In a span of only 18 months—from August 1643 to March 1645—John Milton published five tracts on divorce: The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, a much enlarged edition of that tract, The Judgement of Martin Bucer, Tetrachordon, and Colasterion. The Divorce Tracts of John Milton: Texts and Contexts presents all five full-length pamphlets and documents in order to fully represent Milton’s views on divorce, liberty, gender, and social institutions.
Van den Berg and Howard also present Milton’s work in the context of his contemporaries by including four other publications that represent the first wave of engagement with Milton’s divorce tracts: the anonymously written An Answer to a Book, intituled, The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce (1644); William Prynne’s Twelve Considerable Serious Questions (1644); Herbert Palmer’s The Glasse of God’s Providence (1644); and Daniel Featley’s The Dippers Dipt (1645). The current volume is unique in that it is the first in the field to showcase Milton’s writings on divorce side by side with these related documents, and it provides the first modern transcription of An Answer.
Milton’s argument that divorce could be “to the good of both sexes” makes this often intimidating writer and his era accessible and compelling to contemporary readers. Indeed, his claim for divorce on the basis of mutual incompatibility established the groundwork for the justification of divorce in late twentieth century Anglo-American law. Milton’s rhetorical methods—from cogent advocacy to speculative commentary and poignant vignettes, from citation of authorities and carefully reasoned biblical exegesis to defensive vituperation—demonstrate the range of debate in seventeenth century pamphlet warfare.
History and Subjectivity in Levinas and the Frankfurt School
In Ethics at a Standstill, Asher Horowitz explores the philosophies of Levinas and the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School, demonstrating the ways in which their works diverge from and complement each other. Not simply a comparative study in which approaches are compared and contrasted, nor an attempt to blend or synthesize thinkers with quite distinct aims and methods, the book suggests, rather, that Levinas and the Frankfurt School tend toward each other, that each speaks to the desire that the other already exhibits.
Demonstrating an authoritative command of both the thinkers themselves—including Benjamin, Horkheimer, and Marcuse—and the various philosophical contexts in which they are embedded, Horowitz offers a politically thoughtful and philosophically provocative analysis based on a wide range of texts and a critical reconstruction and confrontation between the positions.
Levinas and Environmental Thought
Despite its attention to questions of ethics and “the ethical,” contemporary continental philosophy has often been disengaged from inquiring into our ethical obligation to nature and the environment. In response to this vacuum in the literature, Facing Nature simultaneously makes Levinasian resources more accessible to practitioners in the diverse fields of environmental thought while demonstrating the usefulness of continental philosophy for addressing major issues in environmental thought. Drawing on the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, these scholars approach environmental philosophy from both humanistic and nonanthropocentric points of view. On the one hand, the book contributes to the discussion of environmental justice as well as the growth of ecophilosophical literature. At the same time, some of the essays take an interpretive approach to Levinas’s thought, finding that his work is able to speak to environmental thinkers whose positions actually diverge quite sharply from his own. While recognizing the limitations of Levinas’s writings from an environmental perspective, Facing Nature argues that themes at the heart of his work—the significance of the ethical, responsibility, alterity, the vulnerability of the body, bearing witness, and politics—are important for thinking about many of our most pressing contemporary environmental questions. Essays specifically highlight the otherness of nature, the vulnerability and suffering of nonhuman animals, the idea of an interspecies politics, the role of nature in ethical life, individual responsibility for climate change, and the Jewish understanding of creation as points of contact between Levinas’s philosophical project and environmental thought. Levinas is also brought into conversation with dialogue partners who enhance this connection, such as Theodor Adorno, Hanna Arendt, Tim Yilngayarri, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Henry David Thoreau. While widely relevant to all those who attempt to think through our ethical relation to the natural world, Facing Nature will be of special interest to scholars and students interested in both continental philosophy and the manifold areas of environmental studies.