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Interpretation

Ways of Thinking about the Sciences and the Arts

The act of interpretation occurs in nearly every area of the arts and sciences. That ubiquity serves as the inspiration for the fourteen essays of this volume, covering many of the domains in which interpretive practices are found. Individual topics include: the general nature of interpretation and its forms; comparing and contrasting interpretation and hermeneutics; culture as interpretation seen through Hegel's aesthetics; interpreting philosophical texts; methodologies for interpreting human action; interpretation in medical practice focusing on manifestations as indicators of disease; the brain and its interpretative, structured, learning and storage processes; interpreting hybrid wines and cognitive preconceptions of novel objects; and the importance of sensory perception as means of interpreting in the case of dry German Rieslings. In an interesting turn, Nicholas Rescher writes on the interpretation of philosophical texts. Then Catherine Wilson and Andreas Blank explicate and critique Rescher's theories through analysis of the mill passage from Leibniz's Monadology.

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Isaac Beeckman on Matter and Motion

Mechanical Philosophy in the Making

Klaas van Berkel

The contribution of the Dutch craftsman and scholar Isaac Beeckman to early modern scientific thought has never been properly acknowledged. Surprisingly free from the constraints of traditional natural philosophy, he developed a view of the world in which everything, from the motion of the heavens to musical harmonies, is explained by reducing it to matter in motion. His ideas deeply influenced Descartes and Gassendi. Klaas van Berkel has succeeded in unearthing and explicating Beeckman's scientific notebooks, allowing us to follow how he developed his new philosophy, almost day by day. Beeckman was almost forgotten until the discovery of his notebooks in the early twentieth century. Isaac Beeckman on Matter and Motion is the first full-length study of the ideas and motives of this remarkable figure. Van Berkel's important study first relates Beeckman's life, placing him in the religious, intellectual, educational, and social context of the Dutch Republic in its golden age. Van Berkel then analyzes the notebooks themselves and the nature and development of Beeckman's "mechanical philosophy." He demonstrates how Beeckman's artisanal background and religious convictions shaped his natural philosophy, even as the decisive influence stems from the educational philosophy of the sixteenth-century French philosopher Peter Ramus. Historians of science and the philosophy of science will find the substance of Beeckman's thought and the unraveling of its growth and development highly interesting. Van Berkel's account provides a new and comprehensive interpretation of the origins of the mechanical philosophy of nature, the philosophy that culminated in the work of Isaac Newton.

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Kant's Theory of Science

Gordon G. Brittan Jr.

While interest in Kant's philosophy has increased in recent years, very little of it has focused on his theory of science. This book gives a general account of that theory, of its motives and implications, and of the way it brought forth a new conception of the nature of philosophical thought.

To reconstruct Kant's theory of science, the author identifies unifying themes of his philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of physics, both undergirded by his distinctive logical doctrines, and shows how they come together to form a relatively consistent system of ideas. A new analysis of the structure of central arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason and the Prolegomena draws on recent developments in logic and the philosophy of science.

Professor Brittan's unified account of the philosophies of mathematics and physics explores the nature of Kant's commitment to Euclidean geometry and Newtonian mechanics as well as providing an integrated reading of the Critique of Pure Reason and the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Contemporary ideas help both to illuminate Kant's position and to show how that position, in turn, illuminates contemporary problems in the philosophy of science.

Originally published in 1978.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Lawless Universe

Science and the Hunt for Reality

Joe Rosen

Can science fully comprehend the whole of the material universe? Not according to Joe Rosen. There is no question that advancements in science—especially in physics—have radically changed our concept of nature, revolutionizing our view of the universe, even of reality itself. Rosen argues, though, that the material universe in its entirety lies beyond science. Anyone who claims otherwise, who proposes a scientific Theory of Everything to explain all aspects and phenomena of nature, only misleads and misinforms. Taking science—and the scientific method—down a peg, Rosen asserts that any understanding of the whole universe, if it is to be found at all, can come only from outside science, from nonscientific modes of comprehension and insight. He believes that popularizers of science—think Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins—are mistaken when they declare that science is on the verge of unlocking all the secrets of the universe. Perhaps without realizing it, they have crossed into the realm of metaphysics in an attempt to explain the unexplainable. In Lawless Universe Rosen explores just how far science can go in comprehending nature. He considers the separate—but entangled—domains of science and metaphysics and examines the all-too-often ignored boundary between the objective and the subjective. Thought-provoking and controversial, Lawless Universe is a complement to, even an antidote for, books that create the misimpression that science can explain everything.

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Leaving Us to Wonder

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.

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Made to Hear

Cochlear Implants and Raising Deaf Children

Laura Mauldin

A mother whose child has had a cochlear implant tells Laura Mauldin why enrollment in the sign language program at her daughter’s school is plummeting: “The majority of parents want their kids to talk.” Some parents, however, feel very differently, because “curing” deafness with cochlear implants is uncertain, difficult, and freighted with judgment about what is normal, acceptable, and right. Made to Hear sensitively and thoroughly considers the structure and culture of the systems we have built to make deaf children hear.

Based on accounts of and interviews with families who adopt the cochlear implant for their deaf children, this book describes the experiences of mothers as they navigate the health care system, their interactions with the professionals who work with them, and the influence of neuroscience on the process. Though Mauldin explains the politics surrounding the issue, her focus is not on the controversy of whether to have a cochlear implant but on the long-term, multiyear undertaking of implantation. Her study provides a nuanced view of a social context in which science, technology, and medicine are trusted to vanquish disability—and in which mothers are expected to use these tools. Made to Hear reveals that implantation has the central goal of controlling the development of the deaf child’s brain by boosting synapses for spoken language and inhibiting those for sign language, placing the politics of neuroscience front and center.

Examining the consequences of cochlear implant technology for professionals and parents of deaf children, Made to Hear shows how certain neuroscientific claims about neuroplasticity, deafness, and language are deployed to encourage compliance with medical technology.


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Manifestly Haraway

Donna J. Haraway

Electrifying, provocative, and controversial when first published thirty years ago, Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” is even more relevant today, when the divisions that she so eloquently challenges—of human and machine but also of gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and location—are increasingly complex. The subsequent “Companion Species Manifesto,” which further questions the human–nonhuman disjunction, is no less urgently needed in our time of environmental crisis and profound polarization.

Manifestly Haraway brings together these momentous manifestos to expose the continuity and ramifying force of Haraway’s thought, whose significance emerges with engaging immediacy in a sustained conversation between the author and her long-term friend and colleague Cary Wolfe. Reading cyborgs and companion species through and with each other, Haraway and Wolfe join in a wide-ranging exchange on the history and meaning of the manifestos in the context of biopolitics, feminism, Marxism, human–nonhuman relationships, making kin, literary tropes, material semiotics, the negative way of knowing, secular Catholicism, and more.

The conversation ends by revealing the early stages of Haraway’s “Chthulucene Manifesto,” in tension with the teleologies of the doleful Anthropocene and the exterminationist Capitalocene. Deeply dedicated to a diverse and robust earthly flourishing, Manifestly Haraway promises to reignite needed discussion in and out of the academy about biologies, technologies, histories, and still possible futures.


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The Mental and the Physical

The Essay and a Postscript

Herbert Feigl

The Mental and the Physical was first published in 1967. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Professor Feigl's essay "The 'Mental' and the 'Physical'" has provoked a great deal of comment, criticism, and discussion since it first appeared as a part of the content of Volume II of the Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science about ten years ago. Now Professor Feigl takes account of the critical discussions and presents his own comments with respect to the most important points raised in the criticisms. The essay itself is presented here in full, along with the postscript. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science has called the essay "a 'super-colossal' survey of the mind-body problem." In its review of the earlier book containing the essay, Thought said: "This essay deserves careful reading by every philosopher concerned with genuine philosophical dialogue."

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Militarizing the Environment

Climate Change and the Security State

Robert P. Marzec

As the seriousness of climate change becomes more and more obvious, military institutions are responding by taking a prominent role in the governing of environmental concerns, engaging in “climate change war games,” and preparing for the effects of climate change—from conflicts due to loss of food, water, and energy to the mass migration of millions of people displaced by rising sea levels. This combat-oriented stance stems from a self-destructive pattern of thought that Robert P. Marzec names “environmentality,” an attitude that has been affecting human–environmental relations since the seventeenth century.

Militarizing the Environment traces the rise of this influential mindset in America and other nations that threatens to supplant ideas of sustainability with demands for adaptation. In this extensive historical study of scientific, military, political, and economic formations across five centuries, Marzec reveals how environmentality has been instrumental in the development of today’s security society—informing the creation of the military-industrial complex during World War II and the National Security Act that established the CIA during the Cold War.

Now embedded in contemporary Western thought, environmentality has even infiltrated scientific thinking—transforming Darwinian insights into a quasi-theology that makes security the biological basis of existence. Marzec exposes the self-destructive nature of this increasingly accepted worldview and offers alternatives that counter the blind alleys of national and global security.


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Mimesis and Science

Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion

Scott R. Garrels

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.

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