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Less Than One But More Than Many

Anthropocene as Science Fiction and Scholarship-in-the-Making

Heather Anne Swanson, Nils Bubandt and Anna Tsing

How might one responsibly review a field just coming into being—such as that provoked by the term Anthropocene? In this article, we argue for two strategies. First, working from the premise that the Anthropocene field is best understood within its emergence, we review conferences rather than publications. In conference performances, we glimpse the themes and tensions of a field-to-come. Second, we interpret Anthropocene as a science-fiction concept, that is, one that pulls us out of familiar space and time to view our predicaments differently. This allows us to explore emergent figurations, genres, and practices for the transdisciplinary study of real and imagined worlds framed by human disturbance. In the interplay and variation across modes for constructing this field, Anthropocene scholarship finds its shape.

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Elanore Holveck and Elizabeth Murray Morelli

Debra B. Bergoffen, The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir: Gendered Phenomenologies, Erotic Generosities, SUNY Series in Feminist Philosophy, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1997, 250 pp. ISBN 0-7914-3151-7, $54.50 (cloth) Review by Eleanore Holveck

Kathleen V. Wider, The Bodily Nature of Consciousness: Sartre and Contemporary Philosophy of Mind. Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press, 1997, 207 pp., ISBN 0-8014-8502-9, $15.95 (paper). Review by Elizabeth Murray Morelli

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Brian Seitz

The impetus for exploring the relationship between Sartre and Foucault may be informed more by Foucault than by Sartre, as it would seem to be geared toward a Foucauldian determination of the discursive parameters of a particular dimension of modern philosophy; that is, of the history of philosophy, including, by extension, the history of existentialism. But insofar as this determination opens up a significant dimension of the situation of philosophy today - of our situation and of the situation of existentialism - it is also Sartrean in nature, as are the effects of this determination, a determination situated somewhere between Sartre's philosophy of freedom and the freedom afforded to Foucault and to us all by the practice of philosophy, and by its future possibilities, which include the possibility "… that I do not believe a word, not one little word, of all I've just scribbled."

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Esther Siedel

Spinoza has been regarded as a philosophical outsider, ‘at odds with what became the philosophical mainstream . . . [and] to read him is to glimpse unrealised possibilities . . . and alternative ways of thinking of minds and bodies . . . agency and responsibility, of the relation between human beings and the rest of nature, between reason and the passions.’ and also of freedom. Today, the controversial philosophy of Spinoza’s Ethics is often described as all-encompassing and celebrated as ‘one of the most remarkable metaphysical systems in the entire history of philosophy’.

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Ward E. Jones

This is a programmatic paper, calling for the renewal and modernisation of the therapeutic approach to philosophy found in Epicureans, Stoics, and Skeptics; and, in particular, for an application of the therapeutic approach to the life of poverty. The general assumption behind a therapeutic approach to philosophy is that it is possible for someone to be exposed to philosophical work which leads her to an improved understanding of herself and her situation, and for her life to be improved by this understanding. After offering a sketch of how, given the current nature of academic philosophy, such work will be carried out and disseminated, I suggest three areas in which philosophical discourse could have a therapeutic affect on the poor.

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Nunzia Borrelli and Peter Davis

This paper describes the main characteristics of ecomuseums as a prelude to analyzing the ways in which they interpret the relationship between nature and culture. It appears that ecomuseums have the capability to interpret this relationship as a dynamic process. However, ecomuseum practices are not simply dedicated to conserving aspects of heritage, but also provide a system of norms and values that contribute to shaping habitus and where “genius loci“ or sense of place can manifest itself. If society is to contribute to the preservation and valorization of nature, then frames of reference - such as the ecomuseum - can seek to inform and change attitudes and perceptions of the nature-culture dynamic. Consequently, people, communities, and democracy lie at the heart of ecomuseum philosophy, encouraging groups and individuals to work together to contribute to improving the environment. Social actions and the negotiation of forms of capital are essential to the process.

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Ze'ev Emmerich

What marks the difference between modern and non-modern political philosophy? Such a question could be understood in two ways. On the one hand, it could be understood as a question concerning formal differences between modern and pre/non-modern modes of philosophising. On the other hand, it could be understood as a question about the changing nature of the object of the philosophical enterprise, namely a question concerning the historical differences between modern and pre-modern (domestic as well as international) politics. Contemporary political philosophy has focused primarily on meeting the first, formal, challenge. By failing to take proper account of the effects that major historical developments—especially the rise of commercial society and global market economy—have had on the character of political life, much of contemporary political theory tend to view its enterprise as essentially an extension to or an application of ethics. What is needed instead is a 'political economy'. Political philosophy must rise to this challenge if it wishes to help us contend with our present predicament. The final part of the article outlines a realist, non-moralistic, political philosophy which takes account of the interplay between human 'sentiments' and 'reason' in a commercial world order.

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Reinhart Koselleck

His Concept of the Concept and Neo-Kantianism

Elías José Palti

The present article intends to trace the conceptual roots of Koselleck’s concept of the concept. Koselleck’s distinction between ideas and concepts has its roots in the logic of Hegel, who was the first to elaborate on the multivocal nature of concepts as their distinguishing feature vis-à-vis ideas. The main hypothesis proposed here is that Koselleck reformulated Hegel’s view on the basis of the neo-Kantian philosophies developed at the turn of the century, with which his theory maintains a tense relationship, without breaking, however, some of its fundamental premises.

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Robyn Ashworth-Steen

This article explores and critiques Maimonides’ doctrine on the problem of evil. The article questions whether the solution is satisfactory in relation to The Guide for the Perplexed itself, the Guide’s audience and for Maimonides himself. The article begins by discussing key principles of Maimonides’ doctrine: the concept of evil as privation, the corruptive nature of matter, Maimonides’ classification of evil, divine providence and the perfection of the intellect. An investigation of Rambam’s solution to the problem of evil reveals fundamental principles underlying the Guide and highlights the radical nature of his philosophy. Whilst Maimonides’ doctrine may not be wholly satisfactory, the work was an intensely personal one, allowing him not only to deal with his particular tragedies, but to offer his people a way of coping with a time of immense suffering and potentially transcending the evil of their time.

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Konstanze Baron

‘C’est dans la connaissance des conditions authentiques de notre vie qu’il nous faut puiser la force de vivre et des raisons d’agir’ states Simone de Beauvoir at the outset of her plea for an existentialist ethics in Pour une morale de l’ambiguïté. Surely, very few philosophers would disagree with her. A correct understanding of the ‘human condition’ has always been held indispensable to the formulation of any moral philosophy, and it seems all the more necessary in the context of an existentialist theory which, in denying the existence of a common human nature, places all the emphasis on the self-made aspect of human life.