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"Reason Is But Choosing"
Recent critical conversation has described John Milton’s major works as sites of uncertainty, irreconcilability, or even confusion—as texts that actually reflect radical incoherence and openness. These newer critical voices posit, moreover, that traditional critics must strain to find coherence and authorial control in Milton’s poetry. Richard J. DuRocher and Margaret Olofson Thickstun, together with an esteemed group of Milton scholars from a wide range of critical and theoretical backgrounds, respond to this challenge. While accepting the presence of uncertainty and welcoming the multiple perspectives that Milton builds into his works, this volume offers a variety of nuanced approaches to Milton’s texts. As these 11 essays demonstrate, Milton’s own acts of interpretation compel readers to reflect not only on the rival hermeneutics they find within his works but also on their own hermeneutic principles and choices—an interpretive complexity that is integral to his poetry’s enduring appeal. Thus, each of the contributors takes up the problem of this interpretive dilemma in some way: several explore Milton’s own engagement with the texts of Scripture and the classics; some examine the ways in which Milton represents the process of interpretation in his narrative poems; and still others are intrigued by the challenges that Milton’s works present for the reader’s own interpretive skills. Milton's Rival Hermeneutics, in responding directly to the “incertitude critics” of Milton, will be of interest to those on all sides of this debate and will certainly redirect the ongoing conversation.
From Hegel to Heidegger
In An Ontological Study of Death: From Hegel to Heidegger, Sean Ireton examines conceptions of death as manifested in German literature and philosophy from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, expanding on thanatological theories that distinguish between a metaphysical and an ontological view of human finitude. Whereas metaphysics separates life from death and posits a transcendent reality beyond the physical world, the ontological perspective integrates death into the very core of being where it functions as a fundamental phenomenon of life. Arguing that the dialectical thinking of Hegel and Hölderlin erases the metaphysical paradigm of death and sets the stage for the existential interpretations advanced by Nietzsche, Rilke, and Heidegger, Ireton maintains that each of these authors ultimately seeks to incorporate the traditional realm of nonbeing into the heart of existence. Framed by the opposing philosophies of Hegel, who deems that death has little personal meaning but is vital for the life of Spirit, and Heidegger, who converts death into the determining factor of selfhood, Ireton’s study finds common ground in the way death is viewed—as the promise of possibility, freedom and wholeness. Though primarily focused on the Germanic tradition, Ireton’s study also addresses the modern French philosophical treatment of death by Blanchot, Kojève, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and Foucault in the wake of their German predecessors. Ireton concludes by placing the dialectical and existential views discussed in his study within the context of modern thanatology, specifically demonstrating how themes of human finitude and freedom have a direct bearing on the current debate surrounding the dignity of death and the right to die.
Plurality, Event, and Contingency in Contemporary Philosophy
After the vehement critique of metaphysics in the twentieth century, ontology has again found its place at the center of continental philosophy. Yet this does not mean that the way in which metaphysics and ontology are understood has not been affected by these criticisms, the so-called “linguistic turn” of hermeneutics and deconstruction. In fact, as Gert-Jan van der Heiden demonstrates, the themes and concepts of contemporary continental metaphysics are highly influenced by the different versions of the account of classical metaphysics as ontotheology. Thus, contemporary thought seeks to recover a sense of the absolute, but without recourse to specifically theological underpinnings. Working largely with present-day thinkers who take seriously Heidegger’s critique of ontotheology—authors such as Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy, Claude Romano, Quentin Meillassoux, and Giorgio Agamben—van der Heiden returns with them to the question of ontology rather than rejecting the question altogether. As the book’s title suggests, he maps this contemporary debate in terms of three axes: plurality; the event and contingency; and, finally, an ethics proper to a thinking receptive to contingency. Rather than affirming either the speculative or the hermeneutic-phenomenological school of thought, van der Heiden shows how these schools, each in their own way, are concerned with similar themes and sources of inspiration. In particular, he assesses and critiques the ways in which philosophers today deal with these concepts to offer an alternative to ontotheology. The question of contingency, he argues, is the most challenging issue for present-day ontology, and ontology today can only be an ontology of contingency.
Levinas and Plato on Loving Beyond Being
What is the philosophical sense of transcendence? What meaning can transcendence have in philosophy? What direction, organization, and order might it give to philosophy? And how does transcendence transform or inspire philosophical thinking?
Sarah Allen confronts these questions as she explores Emmanuel Levinas’s approach to transcendence, which is set within a phenomenological context. Levinas seeks an approach that does not subordinate transcendence to the self-referential activities of human consciousness, and which does not simply fall into ontotheological, metaphysical language about God. Allen's novel approach explores Levinas's use of the language of the beyond and otherwise than being to speak of this ethically and religiously invested transcendence. She traces the beyond being back to its precursors in Plato and Plotinus, noting in particular the relation between Platonic eros and Levinasian desire as affective inspiration of the movement of transcendence and way toward the Good beyond being. This close and nuanced reading of Levinas and Plato on topics of transcendence and affectivity, her consideration of other central influences on Levinas's conception of transcendence, and her depiction of Levinas's "return" to Platonism, all go beyond what has previously been published in the field of Levinas studies.
Looking for the philosophical sense of transcendence, Allen asserts, requires not only a questioning into transcendence, but a questioning of philosophy itself. Any reflection on human affectivity brings us up to the limits of philosophical thought and suggests that there are senses to transcendence that will always escape formulation in philosophical language.
“A significant contribution in the field of modern contemporary philosophy and more specifically to Levinasian studies.” — Jean Marc-Narbonne
For most philosophers, the work of Edith Stein continues to be eclipsed and relegated to obscurity. This work presents an excellent cross-section of Stein’s writings and demonstrates the timeliness and relevance of her ideas for contemporary philosophical scholarship. Antonio Calcagno covers most of Edith Stein’s philosophical life, from her early work with Husserl to her later encounters with medieval Christian thought, as well as a critical and analytical reading of major Steinian texts. Stein was an original thinker who challenged not only the direction in which Husserlian phenomenology was progressing but also sought to bring to philosophical light the relevance of certain key questions, including the meaning of what it is to be human, the relevance of metaphysics to science, and fundamental questions about the nature of God. Working to correct the perception that Stein is either an “unfaithful and distorting” phenomenologist or a pious Catholic mystic, Calcagno presents important work that has been neglected by both secular and religious scholars. The essays are not merely expository, but discuss the philosophical questions raised by Stein’s work from a contemporary perspective, using Stein’s original German texts. In its attention to the breadth and depth of Stein’s philosophy from its initial development to its more mature form, The Philosophy of Edith Stein offers a new understanding of an individual who left behind an incredible philosophical and literary legacy worthy of scholarly attention. The book will be of interest not only to Stein scholars, but to feminists, phenomenologists, and Heideggerians.
Essential Elizabethan Sources, 1558-1603
Although we are currently bombarded with numerous health scares—AIDS, West Nile virus, avian flu, and the recent swine flu, just to name a few that now fill our media reports and instill dread in the population—we can scarcely imagine the outlook that dominated the mindset of those who endured the bubonic plague in England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Between the time of the Black Death and the Great Plague, this horrifying bubonic plague struck the country at such regular intervals that it shaped the general consciousness and even produced a popular genre of plague writing. In The Plague in Print, Rebecca Totaro takes the reader into the world of plague-riddled Elizabethan England, documenting the development of distinct subgenres related to the plague and providing unprecedented access to important original sources of early modern plague writing. Totaro elucidates the interdisciplinary nature of plague writing, which raises religious, medical, civic, social, and individual concerns in early modern England.
Each of the primary texts in the collection offers a glimpse into a particular subgenre of plague writing, beginning with Thomas Moulton’s plague remedy and prayers published by the Church of England and devoted to the issue of the plague. William Bullein’s A Dialogue both pleasant and pietyful, a work that both addresses concerns related to the plague and offers humorous literary entertainment, exemplifies the multilayered nature of plague literature. The plague orders of Queen Elizabeth I highlight the community-wide attempts to combat the plague and deal with its manifold dilemmas. And after a plague bill from the Corporation of London, the collection ends with Thomas Dekker’s The Wonderful Year, which illustrates plague literature as it was fully formed, combining attitudes toward the plague from both the Eizabethan and Stuart periods.
These writings offer a vivid picture of important themes particular to plague literature in England, providing valuable insight into the beliefs and fears of those who suffered through bubonic plague but also illuminating the cultural significance of references to the plague in the more familiar early modern literature by Spenser, Donne, Milton, Shakespeare, and others. As a result, The Plague in Print will be of interest to students and scholars in a number of fields, including sixteenth and seventeenth century English literature, cultural studies, medical humanities, and the history of medicine.
Pursuing the Common Weal
Pleasure and Gender in the Writings of Thomas More argues that, from what appears to be his earliest nonpolemical work, “Pageant Verses,” until what we know to be his last, De tristitia Christi, More sees the will to pleasure as central to the experience of being human: as a primary human impulse or, at the least, a compelling power within the human consciousness. In tracing how More examines the will to pleasure in our lives, Cousins also examines More’s recurrent concern with gender’s inflecting and expressing this desire. More clearly views gender as potentially restrictive or empowering in many respects, which is discussed in relation to several of More’s texts.
Exploring pleasure and gender in relation to issues of the common good and of the (good) state, More probes how people make sense of chance (and, alternatively, how they do not), how friendship works interpersonally and beyond national boundaries, and what roles people play (as well as to what roles they can aspire). As Cousins asserts, pursuing the common weal was for More both necessary and desirable, and he himself pursued this on behalf of his country, the republic of letters, and the Church Militant.
Appropriating Milton in Early African American Literature
“Pursuing things yet unattempted” in literary criticism, Reginald A. Wilburn offers the first scholarly work to theorize African American authors’ rebellious appropriations of John Milton and his canon. This comparative and hybrid study engages African Americans’ transatlantic negotiations with perhaps the preeminent freedom writer in the English tradition. Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt: Appropriating Milton in Early African American Literature contends that early African American authors appropriated and remastered Milton by “completing and complicating” England’s epic poet of liberty with the intertextual originality of repetitive difference. Wilburn focuses on a diverse array of early African American authors, such as Phillis Wheatley, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Frederick Douglass, and Anna Julia Cooper, to name a few. He examines the presence of Milton in these works as a reflection of early African Americans’ rhetorical affiliations with the poet’s “satanic epic” for their own messianic purposes of freedom and racial uplift. Wilburn explains that early African American authors were attracted to Milton because of his preeminent status in literary tradition, strong Christian convictions, and poetic mastery of the English language. This tripartite ministry makes Milton an especially indispensible intertext for authors whose writings and oratory were, sometimes, presumed “beneath the dignity of criticism.” Through close readings of canonical and obscure texts, Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt explores how various authors rebelled against such assessments of black intellect by altering Milton’s meanings, themes, and figures beyond orthodox interpretations and imbuing them with hermeneutic shades of interpretive and cultural difference. However they remastered Milton, these artists respected his oeuvre as a sacred yet secular “talking book” of revolt, freedom, and cultural liberation. Preaching the Gospel of Black Revolt particularly draws upon recent satanic criticism in Milton studies, placing it in dialogue with methodologies germane to African American literary studies. By exposing the subversive workings of an intertextual Middle Passage in black literacy, Wilburn invites scholars from diverse areas of specialization to traverse within and beyond the cultural veils of racial interpretation and along the color line in literary studies.
A masterful survey, Psychotherapy as a Human Science provides a critical and clinical introduction to the core themes and influential thinkers that helped to shape contemporary human science approaches to psychotherapy. Daniel Burston and Roger Frie present an excellent and concise journey through the historical background that informs the development of psychotherapy, and then proceed to deal with many of the important facets of modern psychology and psychiatry from Dilthey and Husserl to the postmodern. Perennial issues in philosophy—the nature and scope of self, knowledge and self-deception, the roots of inner and interpersonal conflicts, the nature of love and reason, the relationship between reason and faith and imagination—took on new depth and meaning in light of nineteenth and twentieth century concepts of the unconscious, alienation, authenticity, alterity and the like. Burston and Frie not only demonstrate that European philosophers laid the foundations for the way many contemporary clinicians think and practice today but provide a theoretical orientation that is too often missing in today’s medicalized practice environment. This book invites readers to delve deeply into the history and theory of existentialism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, depth psychology and humanistic psychology. The authors both explore the implications of these approaches for clinical practice and assert the significance of theory for clinical endeavors, encouraging mental health professionals, students and theorists to widen the scope of psychotherapy practice and training.
Essays on the 1667 First Edition
This two-volume set includes “Paradise Lost: A Poem Written in Ten Books” An Authoritative Text of the 1667 First Edition and its companion volume, “Paradise Lost: A Poem Written in Ten Books” Essays on the 1667 First Edition.