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Phenomenological Sightings in Modern Art and Literature
Fascination with quotidian experience in modern art, literature, and philosophy promotes ecstatic forms of reflection on the very structure of the everyday world. Gosetti-Ferencei examines the ways in which modern art and literature enable a study of how we experience quotidian life. She shows that modernism, while exhibiting many strands of development, can be understood by investigating how its attentions to perception and expectation, to the common quality of things, or to childhood play gives way to experiences of ecstasis—the stepping outside of the ordinary familiarity of the world. While phenomenology grounds this study (through Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Bachelard), what makes this book more than a treatise on phenomenological aesthetics is the way in which modernity itself is examined in its relation to the quotidian. Through the works of artists and writers such as Benjamin, Cézanne, Frost, Klee, Newman, Pollock, Ponge, Proust, Rilke, Robbe-Grillet, Rothko, Sartre, and Twombly, the world of quotidian life can be seen to harbor a latent ecstasis. The breakdown of the quotidian through and after modernism then becomes an urgent question for understanding art and literature in its capacity to further human experience, and it points to the limits of phenomenological explications of the everyday.
Vol. 14 (2013) through current issue
The Edgar Allan Poe Review publishes peer-reviewed scholarly essays; book, film, theater, dance, and music reviews; and creative work related to Edgar Allan Poe, his work, and his influence. Also included are the following regular features: “Marginalia” (short, non–peer reviewed notes), interviews with Poe scholars, the Poe in Cyberspace column, and Poe Studies Association updates.
Toward a Feminist History of Utilitarian Philosophy
Feminist history of philosophy has successfully focused thus far on canon revision, canon critique, and the recovery of neglected or forgotten women philosophers. However, the methodology remains underexplored, and it seems timely to ask larger questions about how the history of philosophy is to be done and whether there is, or needs to be, a specifically feminist approach to the history of philosophy. In Empowerment and Interconnectivity, Catherine Gardner examines the philosophy of three neglected women philosophers, Catharine Beecher, Frances Wright, and Anna Doyle Wheeler, all of whom were British or American utilitarian philosophers of one stripe or another. Gardner’s focus in this book is less on accounting for the neglect or disappearance of these women philosophers and more on those methodological (or epistemological) questions we need to ask in order to recover their philosophy and categorize it as feminist.
Its Nature, Ethics, and Promise
We all live our daily lives surrounded by the products of technology that make what we do simpler, faster, and more efficient. These are benefits we often just take for granted. But at the same time, as these products disburden us of unwanted tasks that consumed much time and effort in earlier eras, many of them also leave us more disengaged from our natural and even human surroundings. It is the task of what Gene Moriarty calls focal engineering to create products that will achieve a balance between disburdenment and engagement: “How much disburdenment will be appropriate while still permitting an engagement that enriches one’s life, elevates the spirit, and calls forth a good life in a convivial society?”One of his examples of a focally engineered structure is the Golden Gate Bridge, which “draws people to it, enlivens and elevates the human spirit, and resonates with the world of its congenial setting. Humans, bridge, and world are in tune.” These values of engagement, enlivenment, and resonance are key to the normative approach Moriarty brings to the profession of engineering, which traditionally has focused mainly on technical measures of evaluation such as efficiency, productivity, objectivity, and precision. These measures, while important, look at the engineered product in a local and limited sense. But “from a broader perspective, what is locally benign may present serious moral problems,” undermining “social justice, environmental sustainability, and health and safety of affected parties.” It is this broader perspective that is championed by focal engineering, the subject of Part III of the book, which Moriarty contrasts with “modern” engineering in Part I and “pre-modern” engineering in Part II.
How the New Deal Constitutional Revolution Continues to Shape the Role of the Supreme Court
An Entrenched Legacy takes a fresh look at the role of the Supreme Court in our modern constitutional system. Although criticisms of judicial power today often attribute its rise to the activism of justices seeking to advance particular political ideologies, Patrick Garry argues instead that the Supreme Court’s power has grown mainly because of certain constitutional decisions during the New Deal era that initially seemed to portend a lessening of the Court’s power. When the Court retreated from enforcing separation of powers and federalism as the twin structural protections for individual liberty in the face of FDR’s New Deal agenda, it was inevitably drawn into an alternative approach, substantive due process, as a means for protecting individual rights. This has led to many controversial judicial rulings, particularly regarding the recognition and enforcement of privacy rights. It has also led to the mistaken belief that the judiciary serves as the only protection of liberty and that an inherent conflict exists between individual liberty and majoritarian rule. Moreover, because the Court has assumed sole responsibility for preserving liberty, the whole area of individual rights has become highly centralized. As Garry argues, individual rights have been placed exclusively under judicial jurisdiction not because of anything the Constitution commands, but because of the constitutional compromise of the New Deal.During the Rehnquist era, the Court tried to reinvigorate the constitutional doctrine of federalism by strengthening certain powers of the states. But, according to Garry, this effort only went halfway toward a true revival of federalism, since the Court continued to rely on judicially enforced individual rights for the protection of liberty. A more comprehensive reform would require a return to the earlier reliance on both federalism and separation of powers as structural devices for protecting liberty. Such reform, as Garry notes, would also help revitalize the role of legislatures in our democratic system.
Improving Judicial Performance in Latin America
Judicial reform became an important part of the agenda for development in Latin America early in the 1980s, when countries in the region started the process of democratization. Connections began to be made between judicial performance and market-based growth, and development specialists turned their attention to “second generation” institutional reforms. Although considerable progress has been made already in strengthening the judiciary and its supporting infrastructure (police, prosecutors, public defense counsel, the private bar, law schools, and the like), much remains to be done. Linn Hammergren’s book aims to turn the spotlight on the problems in the movement toward judicial reform in Latin America over the past two decades and to suggest ways to keep the movement on track toward achieving its multiple, though often conflicting, goals. After Part I’s overview of the reform movement’s history since the 1980s, Part II examines five approaches that have been taken to judicial reform, tracing their intellectual origins, historical and strategic development, the roles of local and international participants, and their relative success in producing positive change. Part III builds on this evaluation of the five partial approaches by offering a synthetic critique aimed at showing how to turn approaches into strategies, how to ensure they are based on experiential knowledge, and how to unite separate lines of action.
The Politics of Infinity
Human beings are restless souls, ever driven by an insistent inner force not only to have more but to be more—to be infinitely more. Various philosophers have emphasized this type of ceaseless striving in their accounts of humanity, as in Spinoza’s notion of conatus and Hobbes’s identification of “a perpetual and restless desire of power after power.” In this book, Laurence Cooper focuses his attention on three giants of the philosophic tradition for whom this inner force was a major preoccupation and something separate from and greater than the desire for self-preservation. Cooper’s overarching purpose is to illuminate the nature of this source of existential longing and discontent and its implications for political life. He concentrates especially on what these thinkers share in their understanding of this psychic power and how they view it ambivalently as the root not only of ambition, vigorous virtue, patriotism, and philosophy, but also of tyranny, imperialism, and varieties of fanaticism. But he is not neglectful of the differences among their interpretations of the phenomenon, either, and especially highlights these in the concluding chapter.
Vol. 33 (2012) through current issue
Eugene O’Neill’s entire life revolved around the stage, and his productivity as a dramatist—some twenty long plays in less than twenty-five years (1920–1943)—remains a remarkable achievement. O’Neill’s plays are known for their intensely personal qualities, their dark realism, and their tragic honesty. O’Neill is the only American playwright ever to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature and is recognized as having helped to establish America as a center of theatrical output and creativity.