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An Essay on the Questions Science Can't Ask
This exciting collaboration between a biologist and a philosopher explores the meaning of the scientific worldview and how it plays out in our everyday lives. The authors investigate alternatives to scientism, the view that science is the proper and exclusive foundation for thinking about and answering every question. They ask: Does the current technoscientific worldview threaten the pursuit of living well? Do the facts procured by technoscientific systems render inconsequential our lived experiences, the wisdom of ancient and contemporary philosophical insight, and the promise offered by time-honored religious beliefs? Drawing on important Western thinkers, including Kant, Nietzsche, Darwin, Heidegger, and others, Linda Wiener and Ramsey Eric Ramsey demonstrate how many of the claims and conclusions of technoscience can and should be challenged. They offer ways of thinking about science in a larger context that respect scientific practice, while taking seriously alternative philosophical modes of thought whose aims are freedom, the good life, and living well.
Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion
This exciting compendium brings together, for the first time, some of the foremost scholars of René Girard’s mimetic theory, with leading imitation researchers from the cognitive, developmental, and neuro sciences. These chapters explore some of the major discoveries and developments concerning the foundational, yet previously overlooked, role of imitation in human life, revealing the unique theoretical links that can now be made from the neural basis of social interaction to the structure and evolution of human culture and religion. Together, mimetic scholars and imitation researchers are on the cutting edge of some of the most important breakthroughs in understanding the distinctive human capacity for both incredible acts of empathy and compassion as well as mass antipathy and violence. As a result, this interdisciplinary volume promises to help shed light on some of the most pressing and complex questions of our contemporary world.
Mobilizing Science theoretically and empirically explores the rise of a new kind of social movement—one that attempts to empower citizens through the use of expert scientific research. Sabrina McCormick advances theories of social movements, development, and science and technology studies by examining how these fields intersect in cases around the globe.
McCormick grounds her argument in two very different case studies: the anti-dam movement in Brazil and the environmental breast cancer prevention movement in the U.S. These, and many other cases, show that the scientization of society, where expert knowledge is inculcated in multiple institutions and lay people are marginalized, gives rise to these new types of movements. While activists who consequently engage in science often instigate new methods that result in new findings and scientific tools, these movements still often fail due to superficial participatory institutions and tightly knit corporate/government relationships.
Science and the Body Politic in Early Industrial Britain
Nervous Conditions explores the role of the body in the development of modern science, challenging the myth that modern science is built on a bedrock of objectivity and confident empiricism. In this fascinating look into the private world of British natural philosophers—including John Dalton, Lord Kelvin, Charles Babbage, John Herschel, and many others—Elizabeth Green Musselman shows how the internal workings of their bodies played an important part in the sciences’ movement to the center of modern life, and how a scientific community and a nation struggled their way into existence. Many of these natural philosophers endured serious nervous difficulties, particularly vision problems. They turned these weaknesses into strengths, however, by claiming that their well-disciplined mental skills enabled them to transcend their bodily frailties. Their adeptness at transcendence, they asserted, explained why men of science belonged at the heart of modern life, and qualified them to address such problems as unifying the British provinces into one nation, managing the industrial workplace, and accommodating religious plurality.
Institutions, Networks, and Power
In the twenty-first century, the production and use of scientific knowledge is more regulated, commercialized, and participatory than at any other time in history. The stakes in understanding these changes are high for scientist and nonscientist alike: they challenge traditional ideas of intellectual work and property and have the potential to remake legal and professional boundaries and transform the practice of research. A critical examination of the structures of power and inequality these changes hinge upon, this book explores the implications for human health, democratic society, and the environment.
Das Allgemeine Brouillon
Novalis is best known in history as the poet of early German Romanticism. However, this translation of Das Allgemeine Brouillon, or “Universal Notebook,” finally introduces him to the English-speaking world as an extraordinarily gifted philosopher in his own right and shatters the myth of him as a mere daydreaming and irrational poet. Composed of more than 1,100 notebook entries, this is easily Novalis’s largest theoretical work and certainly one of the most remarkable and audacious undertakings of the “Golden Age” of German philosophy. In it, Novalis reflects on numerous aspects of human culture, including philosophy, poetry, the natural sciences, the fine arts, mathematics, mineralogy, history, and religion, and brings them all together into what he calls a “Romantic Encyclopaedia” or “Scientific Bible.” Novalis’s Romantic Encyclopaedia fully embodies the author’s own personal brand of philosophy, “Magical Idealism.” With meditations on mankind and nature, the possible future development of our faculties of reason, imagination, and the senses, and the unification of the different sciences, these notes contain a veritable treasure trove of richly poetic and philosophic thoughts.
Contemporary philosopher John Searle has characterized Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) as “the most intelligent human being who has ever lived.” The German philosopher, mathematician, and logician invented calculus (independently of Sir Isaac Newton), topology, determinants, binary arithmetic, symbolic logic, rational mechanics, and much more. His metaphysics bequeathed a set of problems and approaches that have influenced the course of Western philosophy from Kant in the eighteenth century until the present day. On Leibniz examines many aspects of Leibniz’s work and life. This expanded edition adds new chapters that explore Leibniz’s revolutionary deciphering machine; his theoretical interest in cryptography and its ties to algebra; his thoughts on eternal recurrence theory; his rebuttal of the thesis of improvability in the world and cosmos; and an overview of American scholarship on Leibniz. Other chapters reveal Leibniz as a substantial contributor to theories of knowledge. Discussions of his epistemology and methodology, its relationship to John Maynard Keynes and Talmudic scholarship, broaden the traditional view of Leibniz. Rescher also views Leibniz’s scholarly development and professional career in historical context. As a “philosopher courtier” to the Hanoverian court, Leibniz was associated with the leading intellectuals and politicians of his era, including Spinoza, Huygens, Newton, Queen Sophie Charlotte, and Tsar Peter the Great. Rescher extrapolates the fundamentals of Leibniz’s ontology: the theory of possible worlds, the world’s contingency, space-time frameworks, and intermonadic relationships. In conclusion, Rescher positions Leibniz as a philosophical role model for today’s scholars. He argues that many current problems can be effectively addressed with principles of process philosophy inspired by Leibniz’s system of monadology.
Challenging the Traditional Way of Thinking Life
The traditional way of understanding life, as a self-appropriating and self-organizing process of not ceasing to exist, of taking care of one's own hunger, is challenged by today's unprecedented proliferation of discourses and techniques concerning the living being. This challenge entails questioning the fundamental concepts of metaphysical thinking, namely, time, finality, and, above all, being. Garrido argues that today we are in a position to repeat Nietzsche's assertion that there is no other representation of "being" than that of "living." But in order to carry out this deconstruction of ontology, we need to find new ways of asking "What is life?" In this study, Garrido establishes the basic elements of the question concerning life through readings of Aristotle, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida; through the discussion of scientific breakthroughs in thermodynamics and evolutionary and developmental biology; and through the reexamination of the notion of hunger in both its metaphysical and its political implications.