Cover of Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy
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1. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Matthew Berry The Natural Part of Political Justice in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
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Scholars have advanced many different interpretations of Aristotle’s discussion of “the naturally just” in the Nicomachean Ethics. Most of these interpretations, however, pay insufficient attention to the context into which Aristotle introduces the concept, and in particular to Aristotle’s discussion of political justice, of which “the naturally just” is only a part. This paper seeks to recover that context and to offer a new interpretation of “the naturally just” as the part of political justice that is derived from the nature of republican politics, rather than from the agreement of fellow citizens.
2. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Magnus Ferguson Hermeneutical Justice in Fricker, Dotson, and Arendt
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I propose that Hannah Arendt’s hermeneutical philosophy can make important contributions to ongoing debates in the study of epistemic injustice. Building on Kristie Dotson’s concern that Miranda Fricker’s formulation of hermeneutical injustice is needlessly restrictive, I argue that Arendt’s concept of ‘thinking’ challenges us to imagine a form of hermeneutical virtue that is rigorously self-critical. The self-destructive tendency of Arendtian thinking may help to guard against the specific danger that Dotson identifies - namely, that an overly rigid approach to hermeneutical injustice and hermeneutical virtue can itself generate situations of epistemic injustice. Despite important differences that emerge, it is productive to bring together Fricker’s concept of hermeneutical virtue and Arendt’s concept of self-undermining thinking in order to reveal the ways in which these two corrective strategies might enrich and pose important challenges for the other.
3. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Christopher Iacovetti The “Almost Necessary” Link Between Selfhood And Evil In Schelling’s Freiheitsschrift
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This article attempts to draw out and to clarify a tension at the core of Schelling’s Freiheitsschrift (1809). This tension can be put as follows. On the one hand, Schelling insists quite strongly throughout this text upon the inherent goodness of creaturely selfhood—not simply in the negative sense that selfhood is not intrinsically evil, but in the positive sense that each created self is loved by God and destined to play a singular part in God’s self-revelation. On the other hand, Schelling depicts selfhood in terms that seem to link it inextricably—perhaps constitutively—to sin and evil. It is my contention in this article that this tension arises as a result of Schelling’s attempt, in the Freiheitsschrift, to embed an essentially Kantian account of radical evil within the broadly Neoplatonic framework he had sketched five years earlier in his Philosophy and Religion (1804).
4. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Simon Lambek Nietzsche’s Rhetoric: Dissonance and Reception
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This article presents a reading of Nietzsche’s use of rhetoric as inseparable from his philosophical project. I provide an exegesis of Nietzsche’s own reflections on rhetoric and consider its actual deployment, arguing that Nietzsche’s rhetoric is often deliberately dissonant and oriented toward facilitating receptive effects. The aim, I suggest, is to shift politics of possibility—to alter what can and cannot be done and said politically. Dissonant rhetoric, rhetoric that marries aesthetic attunement with affective turbulence, helps to accomplish this end by shaping the way that rhetoric is received by audiences. I conclude by suggesting that Nietzsche’s rhetoric has implications for contemporary theory, shifting how we might view critical political engagement in the public sphere. Understood in this way, Nietzsche’s rhetoric provides a perhaps surprising model for a critically robust form of rhetoric.
5. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Pascal Massie Seeing Darkness, Hearing Silence: Meta-Sensation and the Limits of Perception in Aristotle’s De anima
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This essay addresses the following questions: How does the meta-sensory function of koine aisthesis (sensing-that-I-sense) relate to its other functions? How can a meta-level arise from the immanence of sensation? Can we give an account of meta-sensation that doesn’t assume a transcendental plane? My contention is that (a) the representationalist model doesn’t apply to Aristotle and that (b) Aristotle offers an alternative that is worth exploring. I propose to interpret the meta-sensory power of the koine aisthesis in terms of the sensing of the limits of perception. The sensing of the limit of sensation is the sensing of sensation itself qua potentiality as exemplified by Aristotle’s observations on the experience of seeing darkness or hearing silence. If it is so, sensing-that-I-sense doesn’t require an appeal to a transcendent faculty and arises from the immanent experience of sensation itself.
6. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Lucio Angelo Privitello Approaching the Parmenidean Sublime—Part II
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This paper is Part II of my study entitled “Approaching the Parmenidean Sublime: A New Translation and Resequencing of the Fragments of Parmenides.” What I seek to accomplish here is to elaborate on my resequencing/translation decisions, and take up the more thorny philosophical/juridical aspects of my position previously mentioned, yet condensed, in “Notes to Translator’s Introduction,” and “Notes on the Fragments.” I believe that this continued engagement with the fragments of Parmenides makes up the “dutiful apprenticeship” intrinsically represented in the poem’s teacher-student exchange, and in the request to convey the story. The request to convey the story is still alive and well in Parmenidean studies. This passing along of a teaching, its history, and its style, makes up the essence of an apprenticeship, whether artistic, philosophical, or as a social ontology. To streamline my references to the poem, I will use only my translated and resequenced fragment and line numbers found in my article, “Approaching the Parmenidean Sublime: A New Translation and Resequencing of the Fragments of Parmenides,” from Volume 23, Number 1, pages 1–18, Fall 2018, of this journal.
7. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey Reid Hegel and the Politics of Tragedy, Comedy and Terror
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Greek tragedy, in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, represents the performative realization of binary political difference, for example, “private versus public,” “man versus woman” or “nation versus state.” On the other hand, Roman comedy and French Revolutionary Terror, in Hegel, can be taken as radical expressions of political in-difference, defined as a state where all mediating structures of association and governance have collapsed into a world of “bread and circuses.” In examining the dialectical interplay between binary, tragic difference and comedic, terrible in-difference, the paper arrives at hypothetical conclusions regarding how these political forms may be observed today.
8. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Mark Sentesy Community with Nothing in Common?: Plato’s Subtler Response to Protagoras
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The Protagoras examines how community can occur between people who have nothing in common. Community, Protagoras holds, has no natural basis. Seeking the good is therefore not a theoretical project, but a matter of agreement. This position follows from his claim that “man is the measure of all things.” For Socrates community is based on a natural good, which is sought through theoretical inquiry. They disagree about what community is, and what its bases and goals are. But Plato illustrates the seriousness of Protagoras’s position through the repeated breakdown of their conversation. The dialogue leads us to question both speakers’ assumptions about community. Socrates must face the problem that not everything can be brought to language. Protagoras must recognize that there is a basis of community even in what cannot be shared. Community is grounded in an event that is both natural and not up to us, and cultural and articulate.
9. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Beau Shaw Political Form in Paul Celan
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Paul Celan’s “Tenebrae” is a scandalous poem: it describes how “unity with the dying Jesus” (in Hans-Georg Gadamer’s words) is achieved by means of the Jewish experience of the concentration camps. In this paper, I provide a new interpretation of “Tenebrae” that breaks from the two traditional ways in which the poem has been viewed—on the one hand, as a Christian poem that suggests that Jesus, insofar as he suffers just like Jewish concentration camp victims do, can provide “hope and redemption for the faithful” (Gadamer), and, on the other hand, as an ironic criticism of this Christian idea. Rather, I suggest that “Tenebrae” is a modification of Christianity: preserving Christian belief about Jesus’s death, it destroys that belief, and does so for the sake of the defense against Christian persecution. Finally, I suggest that this view reveals the peculiar poetic form of “Tenebrae”—what I call “political form.”
10. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 25 > Issue: 1
Peter Westmoreland Moral Laws of the Heart: Conscience, Reason, and Sentiments in Rousseau’s Moral Foundationalism
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Tensions between sentiments and reason are a well-known feature of Rousseau’s moral theory. To explain these tensions, this paper appeals to Rousseau’s moral foundationalism. In this foundationalism, I argue, feeling and reason operate jointly to establish the content and normativity of moral law. This joint operation is not always smooth, and additionally there is much leeway in this theory, which explains the theory’s ability to accommodate various interpretations and emphases as well as its struggle to delimit specific moral laws, choices, and actions. The most important element of this foundationalism is conscience, which does the work of voicing moral laws with content and normativity grounded in moral sentiments.
11. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Colin C. Smith Toward a Two-Route Interpretation of Parmenidean Inquiry
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In this paper I challenge the orthodox view regarding the number of routes of inquiry in Parmenides’s poem. The narrating goddess in Fragment 2 identifies ‘the only routes of inquiry there are for knowing,’ (i) guided by the ‘[. . .] is [. . .]’ and (ii) guided by ‘what-is-not as such.’ In Fragment 6, the goddess considers taking (iii) ‘both to be and not to be’ to be ‘the same and not the same,’ and most modern commentators hold that this constitutes a third route. I argue instead that this interpretation entails missing the routes’ fundamental interconnections, and that the goddess describes only two. To show this, I consider Fragments 2 and 6 before turning to key notions in Doxa, particularly the constitutive ontological kinds ‘light’ and ‘night,’ to account for the second, mortal route. Mortals have missed the being of these two, and I develop an account of the inquiry that is guided by this insight.
12. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
John V. Garner Creative Discovery: Proclus and Plato on the Emergence of Scientific Precision
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In his commentary on Euclid, Proclus develops what he takes to be an important Platonic critique of the epistemology of abstraction. As I argue, his argument closely reflects terminology and concepts from Plato’s Philebus. Both emphasize the priority—in reality and in our awareness—of the precise over the imprecise. Specifically, Proclus’s famous notion of the psychical “projection” of intermediate mathematical entities, while having no technically exact precedent in Plato, finds a conceptual neighbor in the Philebus’s suggestion that philosophical arithmeticians “posit” pure units for counting. Likewise, for both our self-engagement in mathematical thinking (which has importance even for non-mathematical inquiries) serves to clarify the independence of the precise sciences—both in their content and in their practice—from perception. Thus, as I argue, Plato and Proclus, with their different terms and nuances, develop a shared conception scientific inquiry in which an activity of “creative discovery” plays a central role.
13. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Rebekah Johnston Aristotle on Wittiness: Verbally Abusing One’s Friends in the Right Way
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Aristotle claims, in his Nicomachean Ethics, that in addition to being, for example, just and courageous, and temperate, the virtuous person will also be witty. Very little sustained attention, however, has been devoted to explicating what Aristotle means when he claims that virtuous persons are witty or to justifying the plausibility of the claim that wittiness is a virtue. It becomes especially difficult to see why Aristotle thinks that being witty is a virtue once it becomes clear that Aristotle’s witty person engages in what he calls ‘educated insolence’. Insolence, for Aristotle, is a form of slighting which, as he explains in the Rhetoric, generally causes the person slighted to experience shame and anger. In this paper, I attempt to bring some clarity to Aristotle’s claim that being witty is a virtue by examining why Aristotle thinks that the object of a witty person’s raillery will find this joking pleasant.
14. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Sean Erwin Mixed Bodies, Agency and Narrative in Lucretius and Machiavelli
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Scholars have cited the influence of Lucretius on Machiavelli as important to framing Machiavelli’s position on the freedom of political agents. Some scholars like Roecklin (2012) and Rahe (2007, 2008) argue that Machiavelli was a determinist based on Machiavelli’s rejection of the clinamen; others argue with Brown (2010, 2013, 2015) and Morfino (2006, 2011) that Machiavelli’s affirmation of Lucretian natural principles left room for the freedom of agents. However, this paper takes a different approach by arguing that Machiavelli successfully resists identification with either of these positions. I argue here that Machiavelli affirms a notion of agency that reflects the influence of the Lucretian notion of mixed bodies where human actions emerge from an irreducible multiplicity of subjective and objective factors. I also argue that Machiavelli structures the narratives describing the actions of his agents in a way that supports interpreting their actions as both contingent and necessary.
15. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Thora Ilin Bayer The Two Views of Renaissance Philosophy
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In the study of the history of philosophy, there is a long-standing question as to whether works produced between the mid-fourteenth century and the end of the sixteenth century, the Renaissance, can be rightly understood as philosophy or as primarily literary and rhetorical in character. The latter view is prominently held by Paul Oskar Kristeller but has precedent in Hegel’s treatment of this period in his History of Philosophy. That the works of major figures of this period are essentially philosophical is a view held, in quite different ways, by Ernst Cassirer and Ernesto Grassi. This essay examines the origin and nature of these views and advances a general perspective through which they may be brought together.
16. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Razvan Ioan Descartes’s Turn to the Body
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What are Descartes’s views on the body and how do they change? In this article, I try to make clearer the nature of the shift towards an increased focus on the body as ‘my’ body in Descartes’s Passions of the Soul. The interest in the nature of passions, considered from the point of view of the ‘natural scientist’, is indicative of a new approach to the study of the human. Moving beyond the infamous mind-body union, grounded in his dualist metaphysics, Descartes begins developing a philosophical anthropology centred on the notion of power and better suited to practical philosophy.
17. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Dimitris Vardoulakis Why Is Spinoza an Epicurean?
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The article argues that Spinoza’s political philosophy is best understood by tracing the influence of epicureanism in his thought.
18. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Matthew J. Dennis Virtue as Empowerment: Spinozism in Nietzsche’s Ethics
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Virtue ethical interpretations of Nietzsche are increasingly viewed as a promising way to explain his moral philosophy, although current interpretations disagree on which character traits he regards as virtues. Of the first-, second-, and third-wave attempts addressing this question, only the latter can explain why Nietzsche denies that the same character traits are virtues for all individuals. Instead of positing the same set of character traits as Nietzschean virtues, third-wave theorists propose that Nietzsche only endorses criteria determining whether a specific character trait is a virtue or vice for a specific individual. The article examines the criteria-based approaches of third-wave theorists Lester Hunt and Christine Swanton, showing how they urgently need revising to explain Nietzsche’s endorsement of non-acquisitive character traits (such as those involving sensitivity and receptivity). To do this I explore Nietzsche’s unpublished remarks on Spinoza, which I contend better explains why he understands non-acquisitive character traits as virtues.
19. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Russell Winslow Enlightenment Infinitesimals and Tolstoy’s War and Peace
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During the Enlightenment period the concept of the infinitesimal was developed as a means to solve the mathematical problem of the incommensurability between human reason and the movements of physical beings. In this essay, the author analyzes the metaphysical prejudices subtending Enlightenment Humanism through the lens of the infinitesimal calculus. One of the consequences of this analysis is the perception of a two-fold possibility occasioned by the infinitesimal. On the one hand, it occasions an extreme form of humanism, “transhumanism,” which exhibits limitless confidence in the possibility of human science. On the other hand, the concept of the infinitesimal also contains within itself a source for a critical “posthumanism,” that is to say, a source which initiates the dissolution of the presuppositions of humanism while simultaneously announcing a different ontological organization. In , Tostoy’s novel takes up the problem of the relation between reason and motion and makes the two-fold possibility visible by presenting a contrast between its theoretical presentations and the lived experiences of the characters in the novel. Thus, is the setting in which the author has chosen to conduct this analysis.
20. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
William Konchak Gadamer’s “Practice” of Theoria
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This paper explores the Greek conception of theoria, Gadamer’s interpretation of it, and how he applies it to his own hermeneutics. In particular, the transition that Gadamer makes from traditional metaphysical perspectives of theoria in ancient thought towards the activity of theoria within human life is explored, and the role that his aesthetics plays in this process. The importance of the intertwining of theory and practice for Gadamer is considered and what the practice of theoria may consist in. It is suggested that Gadamer’s approach, which emphasizes heightened experiences of interconnection to promote self-transformation, is a productive transformation of theoria relevant to contemporary points of view.