Cover of Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy
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Displaying: 101-120 of 510 documents

101. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Walter Brogan Greek Tragedy and the Ethopoietic Event
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In this essay, I attempt to explore Dennis Schmidt’s pervasive claim throughout his work of a deep affinity between aesthetic experience and ethical life. In a discussion of what Schmidt calls the intensification of life, the essay shows how for Schmidt birth and death are moments that have a peculiar capacity to reveal what he calls the idiom of the ethical. At the end of the essay, I turn to Schmidt’s discussion of Greek tragedy as an exemplary site for his unique sense of original ethics.
102. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Theodore George In a World Fraught and Tender: On Dennis Schmidt’s Contribution to an Original Ethics
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In this essay, the author argues that Dennis Schmidt’s considerations of ethical life, when taken together, comprise a prescient and distinctive response to Heidegger’s call to pursue an ‘original ethics.’ In this, Schmidt disavows discourses within the discipline of ethics that seek to establish an ethical theory or position, arguing instead that the demands of ethical life require us to focus on the incalculable singularity of the factical situations in which we find ourselves. The author suggests that Schmidt’s contributions to such an original ethical turns on Schmidt’s claims that the context of ethical life is fraught because bound up with radical finitude—though, for that very reason, also tender because marked by the need to care for one another in our vulnerability and fragileness.
103. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Peg Birmingham Dennis Schmidt and the Origin of the Ethical Life: The Law of the Idiom
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This essay explores Dennis Schmidt’s notion of an “original ethics,” asking how language, freedom and history are at work in this original ethics. The essay first examines Schmidt’s claim that philosophy has traditionally understood ethical and political life as rooted in a subject ruled entirely by what he calls “the law of the common.” The essay specifically looks at how Plato and Hobbes embrace the law of the common, expelling thereby the law of the idiom from their respective ethical and political thought. The essay then turns to an examination of Schmidt’s “original ethics” which he claims offers a way out from the law of the common and the logic of Machenschaft that animates this law. In conclusion, the essay expresses a concern on whether Schmidt can move as seamlessly as he seems to claim from an original ethics to political being in common, asking of the role of judgment in Schmidt’s original ethics.
104. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Andrew Benjamin The Predicament of Life: Dennis Schmidt and the Ethical Subject
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Of the many elements within Schmidt’s work that warrant discussion the attempt to differentiate the ethical from the conceptual is one of the most significant. That it is in part grounded in a reading of Kant makes it even more important. The aim of this essay is to question the way this differentiation is established and then justified. Part of the argument is to show the limits within Schmidt’s way of addressing what is central to any philosophical anthropology namely a concern with the being of being human.
105. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
James Risser Ethical Hermeneutics, or How the Ubiquity of the Finite Casts the Human in the Shadow of the Dark Side of the Moon
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This paper attempts to define Dennis J. Schmidt’s distinctive contribution to philosophy and to contemporary hermeneutics in particular under the heading of an ethical hermeneutics. The idea of an ethical hermeneutics is considered in relation to four aspects: 1) the element of practice as the constitutive element of ethical hermeneutics; 2) the force of practice: finitude; 3) the idiom as the place of finitude; 4) ethical hermeneutics and the domain of the common. The fourth aspect constitutes the critical engagement with the idea of an ethical hermeneutics, arguing that the notion of the common, which is underdeveloped in Schmidt’s writings, serves as a practical “concept” that takes the place of the theoretical concept in an ethical hermeneutics.
106. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
María del Rosario Acosta López On the Style of Philosophizing: Dennis Schmidt’s Hermeneutics of Writing
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In this article I address the question of writing and philosophical style as it is reflected on, and staged, by Dennis Schmidt’s work. I emphasize the relationship between Schmidt’s insistence on preserving a conception of beauty as productive for our current philosophical insights, and the way in which this is related to the call for, and implementation of, a “beautiful” style of philosophizing. In order to exemplify what I mean by this, I support some of my arguments with Friedrich Schiller’s reflections on philosophical style and his controversy around this issue with J. Gottlieb Fichte.
107. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey T. Nealon Hermeneutics without Meaning: The Comic and the Political
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This essay traces an astonishing shift in Denny Schmidt’s work, from his emphasis on tragedy and death in 2005’s Lyrical and Ethical Subjects, to an emphasis on the comic possibilities of life in Between Word and Image (2012). Simply put, his earlier book pivots most decisively on language and, as he writes, the ways that language “bears witness to finitude” (2). Between Word and Image, on the other hand, pivots decisively on the image and reveals for us the possibility that “painting is at its heart the presentation of the movement of life” (96). The essay ends with some questions about the specifically political upshot of Schmidt’s work on the relations among aesthetic experience and “life.”
108. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Shannon M. Mussett Death and Sacrifice in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature
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This paper explores a dimension of the contemporary western understanding of nature as it has been shaped by the thought of Hegel. Emblematic of a tradition that struggles to think nature on its own terms but which, more often than not, formulates it as the ground upon which human progress is built, Hegel’s philosophy sacrifices nature to spiritual progress. Orienting this study through Dennis J. Schmidt’s work on death and sacrifice in the dialectic, I trace Hegel’s formulation of the natural to show how the denigration of nature plays into a larger pattern evident in the western tradition, one that that positions the natural as somehow “outside” the political and spiritual, thereby subjecting it to mischaracterization and misuse. I conclude with a call for a post-sacrificial understanding of the natural world in an effort to help challenge the destructive force inherited by this tradition.
109. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
David Wood Earth Art: Space, Place, Word, and Time
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This presentation is something of a performative response to the thrust and promise of Dennis Schmidt’s work in Between Word and Image, especially his reference to art as an ethopoetic event. My own art practice has led me to ask when art happens, about the event of art. Rilke was right: “you must change your life.” This means a break with the dominance of representation, calculation and Machenschaft. The idea that this means a renewal of dwelling, and that art can help, is for Denny the ethical promise of art. We here take up questions he sets aside—that of Nature and that of the possibility/efficacy of art today (Hegel/Adorno). I claim that earth art has distinctive ways of recalibrating our understanding of and engagement with space and time, which feed into what we mean by dwelling, our bearing in the world. This transforms how we think of questions of control with respect to Nature.
110. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 22 > Issue: 1
Dennis J. Schmidt Where Ethics Begins . . .
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The purpose of this essay is to take up the question of how an ethical con­sciousness emerges, that is where ethics might begin, and to ask about some of the consequences one might draw from this beginning. The essay argues that one site for thinking through such a beginning is the consciousness of mortality. To unpack such a claim, the essay takes up Heidegger’s discussion of this point in Being and Time as well as Derrida’s discussion of this consciousness in his seminar on Beast and Sovereign and his essay “Béliers.” The final stage of the argument concerns the sameness of birth and death for an understanding of ethical sense: both speak to the vulnerability and the absoluteness that expose the questions of ethical life, and both intensify a sense of what is at stake in such a life.
111. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Rose Cherubin "Mortals Lay Down Trusting to be True"
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The goddess’s speech in Parmenides’s fragments is framed by the opinions of mortals in at least two ways. First, the journey of the proem starts in the world described by mortals’ opinions, and the second part of the goddess’s speech explores those opinions. Second, throughout her speech, the goddess invokes features of the world according to mortals’ opinions—negation, coming-to-be, destruction—even when she is arguing for a road of inquiry that excludes those features. Further, we study the fragments by means of the definitions and claims regarding what-is that we use to function and communicate in our mortal lives. This paper proposes to approach the fragments with an awareness of this framing. A result is that the logical conclusion of accepting mortals’ opinions is that mortals’ opinions are flawed; and that result is based on flawed opinions. The goddess’s account thus presents something like a Liar Paradox.
112. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Michael M. Shaw Parataxis in Anaxagoras: Seeds and Worlds in Fragment B4a
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This paper examines parataxis and ring composition in Anaxagoras Fragment B4a, arguing that this ostensibly prose philosopher employs these poetic techniques to capture his thought. Comparing the fragment with Homeric similes and his description of Achilles’s Shield from Ililad XVIII reveals an immanent poetics within the Anaxagorean text. Lying between two instances of "πολλά τε καὶ παντοῖα" (many things of all kinds) most of fragment constitutes a single sentence. Such ring composition advises that no part of the paratactic clause should be read independently from any other. This supports reading the discussion of "seeds" (σπέρματα) and "compacted" (συμπαγῆναι) human beings in B4a as yielding a conception of infinitely proliferating microcosmic worlds each undergoing its own separation within a single cosmos.
113. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Andy German Chronos, Psuchē, and Logos in Plato’s Euthydemus
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Can the Euthydemus illuminate the philosophical significance of sophistry? In answering this question, I ask why the most direct and sustained confrontations between Socrates and the two brothers should all center on time and the soul. The Euthydemus, I argue, is a not primarily a polemic against eristic manipulation of language, but a diagnosis of the soul’s ambiguous unity. It shows that sophistic speech emerges from the soul’s way of relating to its own temporal character and to logos. Stated differently, a central theme of this dialogue is one which, we are repeatedly told, the Greeks had not yet thematized--the nature of interiority.
114. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Brian Marrin What’s Next in Plato’s Clitophon?: Self-Knowledge, Instrumentality, and Means without End
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The Clitophon has posed a riddle to its readers: Why does Socrates not respond to the criticisms levelled against him? A careful reading of the dialogue shows that Clitophon’s criticism of Socrates already contains its own rebuttal. It is not, as many have suggested, certain beliefs of Clitophon’s that make a Socratic response impossible. Rather, Socrates’s silence is itself the response, intended to force Clitophon to turn back to what has already been said. It is Clitophon’ lack of self-knowledge, or better his self-oblivion, his failure to see his own soul as implicated in the logos, that propels him always to seek out what’s next in the logos without any reflection on what has already been said.
115. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
John Sallis The Span of Memory: On Plato’s Theaetetus
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This interpretation directed at certain passages in Plato’s Theaetetus explicates the close relation that the dialogue establishes between memory, thought, and speech. It shows that all of these means contribute to the soul’s capacity to stretch beyond mere perceptions. The interpretation also shows that comedic elements play a major role in the dialogue, most notably, in the well-known passage that purportedly explains knowledge and memory by means of the image of birds flying about in an aviary. Through close examination of the relevant passages, the interpretation shows that the Theaetetus is not aporetic but rather achieves a positive advance that prepares the way for the Sophist.
116. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
I-Kai Jeng Plato’s Sophist on the Goodness of Truth
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“Late” Platonic dialogues are usually characterized as proposing a “scientific” understanding of philosophy, where “neutrality” is seen favorably, and being concerned with the honor of things and/or their utility for humans is considered an attitude that should be overcome through dialectical training. One dialogue that speaks strongly in favor of this reading is the Sophist, in which the stance of neutrality is explicitly endorsed in 227b-c. This paper will propose a reading of the Sophist showing that this common view of late Plato is misleading. It will argue for three things. First, 227b-c, when contextually understood, actually shows the limitation of being neutral. Second, that limitation compels the interlocutors in the rest of the conversation to pursue a non-neutral way of philosophizing about the sophist, contrary to the advice put forward in 227b-c. Finally, the non-neutral definition of the sophist that concludes the dialogue does not signal Plato’s preference for a non-neutral conception of philosophical knowledge either. A careful consideration of the dramatic ending suggests that he has reservations about it no less than he does about a neutral conception. The fact that both these conceptions had limitations perhaps explains why Plato, even in his late years, did not turn to the treatise format but remained within the dialogue: only in this form is it possible to retain both in philosophical logos.
117. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Travis Holloway How to Perform a Democracy: A Genealogy of Bare Voices
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This paper explores a type of poetry, music, and theater that is said to be responsible for the birth of participatory democracy. While Aristotle and Nietzsche briefly mention a similar genealogy of democracy in their work, Book III of Plato’s Laws archives a remarkable history of how participatory democracy emerged in Athens’s theater. After connecting Plato's account to a participatory style of music and poetry that is associated initially with the term polyphōnia, I consider a line of philosophical commentary on this type of music from Plato to Rousseau to Derrida. For these philosophers, I claim, polyphōnia disrupts the political hierarchy of those with and those with bare voices and encourages equal participation. If the phenomenon of polyphōnia is indeed behind Plato’s historical account of democracy in the Laws, then it may tell us how democracy was first performed in the theater and how it was initially critiqued by philosophers.
118. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Christopher Cohoon Friendship and the Divine Wish: Re-Reading Nicomachean Ethics 1159a5–12
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According to Aristotle’s reply to what I call the divine wish aporia (NE VIII.7 1159a5–12), perfect friendship entails wishing many great goods for one’s friend, but precludes wishing that one’s friend become a god—“the greatest of goods”—for the realization of this wish would destroy the friendship. Counter both to this reply and to the slim body of existing commentary, which appeals to the external criterion of equalizable reciprocation, I demonstrate how the perspective internal to the virtuous activity of perfect friendship affords properly Aristotelian grounds for retaining the divine wish as its constitutive limit. While the practicable scope of perfect friendship remains circumscribed within human limits, its characteristic wishing at once reaches beyond the human—and the friendship.
119. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Jacob Abolafia Essentialism and Pluralism in Aristotle’s “Function Argument” (NE 1.7)
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Aristotle is often thought of as one of the fathers of essentialism in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s argument for the essence of human beings is, however, much more flexible than this prejudice might suggest. In the passage about the “human function” at Nichomachean Ethics 1.7, Aristotle gives an account of the particular “function” (or “achievement,” ergon) of human beings that does not ask very much of the modern reader—only that she be prepared to analyze human beings as a logical category according to certain rules. While this may trouble the naturalistic reductionist or the post-humanist thinker, it is not clear that Aristotle’s request is unreasonable, especially given what the function argument goes on to offer. It places normative thinking in the constellation of type-property-activity, a narrowing of the search for the human good, but not an overly constrictive one. The second, substantive stage of the argument gives a more narrow interpretation of what the unique property and its corresponding activity are in the case of humans—but even here Aristotle’s apparently “thick” conclusions about the ultimate human good ultimately leave more room for a pluralistic disagreement about ends than might be expected.
120. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 21 > Issue: 2
Sean D. Kirkland On the Ontological Primacy of Relationality in Aristotle’s Politics and the “Birth” of the Political Animal
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In this paper, I begin with the most basic tenet in Aristotelian metaphysics, namely that ousia or ‘substance’ is ontologically prior to the nine other categories of being, including the pros ti, the condition of being literally ‘toward something’ or what is sometimes called 'relation' or ‘relationality.’ Aristotle repeats this frequently throughout his works and it is, I take it, manifest. However, in the Politics, so I argue here, Aristotle’s dialectical study of common appearances leads him to describe ‘human being’ in a way that runs contrary to this. That is, insofar as the human being is the zoon politikon or ‘political animal,’ it seems to be constituted as the being it is precisely by way of its relatedness to other human beings in the polis. I then try to determine the moment of ‘birth’ for this essentially relational being, and find that it may not be the emergence of the human from the womb, but rather, at least according to this interpretation of the Politics, the moment when we enter into the logos together with others in posing, discussing, debating, and re-posing the abidingly open question of the human Good.