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141. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Rachel Jones Kant, Irigaray, and Earthquakes: Adventures in the Abyss
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In 1755, Lisbon was destroyed by an earthquake whose aftershocks were felt across Europe. One of the less well-known responses to this abyssal event is that offered by Kant in his three essays on earthquakes and their causes. According to Irigaray, Kant's concern with an earth that moves is not incidental, but central to the emergence of his critical project. The goal of this paper is to trace a line from Kant's earthquake essays, through his later writings on the sublime, to Irigaray's critique of the Kantian project and her positive re-appropriation of a matter that moves, a well as the sublime figure of the abyss. I will suggest that, in her work, the abyss is transformed from a rupturing cleft into a shelter for sexuate difference, and from a site of terror into a space for wonder.
142. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Dirk Setton Absolute Spontaneity of Choice: The Other Side of Kant’s Theory of Freedom
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Kant’s concept of autonomy promises to solve the problem of the actuality of freedom. The latter has actuality as a practical capacity insofar as the will is objectively determined through the form of law. In later writings, however, Kant situates the actuality of freedom in the “absolute spontaneity” of choice, and connects the reality of autonomy itself to the condition of a “radical” act of free choice. The reason for this resides in the fact that his first solution is marked by a certain defect: it does not contain a sufficient concept of the actuality of a practical capacity. This essay elaborates a revised account of Kant’s concept of freedom in light of this insight. The argument is that we need to distinguish force and faculty in order to understand the actuality of a capacity. Only on this basis can we introduce the idea of imagination as a pre-reflexive force of practical reason and the idea of reflective judgment as a power of practical judgment in order to realize how free choice is capable of generating a maxim that has the form of a law spontaneously and of its own accord. In this way, we see that the actuality of freedom necessarily includes the spontaneity of choice, and that human freedom manifests a certain paradoxicality: the university of the will is bound to a subjective ground of determination, to a pre-reflexive act of "radical" choice.
143. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 1
Alistair Welchman Heidegger among the Robots
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Cognitive science and artificial intelligence have undergone some revolutionary changes in the past two decades. From an emphasis on disembodied cognitive functions like chess and logic, they now foreground the embodied and environmentally embedded nature of intelligent actions. Some-both philosophy of cognitive science and practitioners-have sought to explain this shift in terms of a Heideggerian critique of the residually Cartesian assumptions of the traditional picture of disembodied cognition. I support the opening up new areas of research practice formally closed off by tacit and unjustified theoretical presuppositions, but argue that these changes are and have been warranted by biological and information-theoretic concerns and not phenomenological ones derived from Heidegger's thought.
144. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Clarence W. Joldersma An Ethical Sinngebung Respectful of the Non-Human: A Levinasian Environmental Ethics
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In the following paper, I connect Levinas’s notions of il y a and hypostasis to nature as alterity via Sallis’s interpretation of nature in its return. I interpret Levinas’s idea of the elemental as an unpossessable milieu, an excess with indirect traces, indicating alterity, something strange. I then turn to Levinas’s idea of the ruin of representation to argue for a contextual reversal in which meaning arises from the non-human other. This reversal uncovers the possibility of understanding non-human things as existents, sites where nature in its return reveals the need for respect of the other—an ethical Sinngebung.
145. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Bettina Bergo The Future of Paradosis: Jean-Luc Nancy’s Dis-Enclosure: Deconstruction of Christianity
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This essay discusses Jean-Luc Nancy’s Dis-Enclosure: Deconstruction of Christianity (2008). Nancy’s engagement with Christianity in this work contrasts with the so-called theological turn in phenomenology. This raises probing questions regarding the name of God and the sense of the “divine” in a demythified world, as well as the question of the exhaustion of Christianity and its self-deconstruction. I address Nancy’s exploration of the overcoming of nihilism and the possibility, and “look,” of a faith that is not tied to a god or a master signifier, thereby moving beyond certain ‘orthodox’ oppositions between atheism and Christianity. I use Gérard Granel’s deformalization of phenomenology and the Gospel of James’s “Epistle of straw” to adumbrate a minimalist faith in the world, and I alsoinvestigate Jean Pouillon’s study of the senses of “croire” and Émile Benveniste’s archeology of credere in light of Nancy’s approach to faith. I close with reflections on Nietzsche’s psychology of “the redeemer.”
146. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Fred Evans The Clamour of Voices: Neda, Barack, and Social Philosophy
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Taking up the significance of Neda Agha-Soltan’s death in an Iranian street protest and novelist Zadie Smith’s analysis of President Obama, I offer an account of society as a “multivoiced body.” This body consists of “voices” that at once separate and bind themselves together through their continuous and creative interplay. Viewing society in this manner implies the simultaneous valorization of solidarity, diversity, and the creation of new voices as well as the kind of “hearing others” that makes these three political virtues possible. It also encourages resistance to the always present countertendency of raising a particular voice to the level of the “one true God,” “pure race,” “Capital,” or any other “oracle” that eliminates the dynamism of contesting voices.
147. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Noah Moss Brender Sense-Making and Symmetry-Breaking: Merleau-Ponty, Cognitive Science, and Dynamic Systems Theory
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From his earliest work forward, Merleau-Ponty attempted to develop a new ontology of nature that would avoid the antinomies of realism and idealism by showing that nature has its own endogenous sense which is prior to re􀏔lection. The key to this new ontology was the concept of form, which he appropriated from Gestalt psychology. However, Merleau-Ponty struggled to give a positive characterization of the phenomenon of form which would clarify its ontological status. Evan Thompson has recently taken up Merleau-Ponty’s ontology as the basis for a new, “enactive” approach to cognitive science, synthesizing it with concepts from dynamic systems theory and Francisco Varela’s theory of autopoiesis. However, Thompson does not quite succeed in resolving the ambiguities in Merleau-Ponty’s account of form. This article builds on an indication from Thompson in order to propose a new account of form as asymmetry, and of the genesis of form in nature as symmetry-breaking. These concepts help us to escape the antinomies of Modern thought by showing how nature is the autoproduction of a sense which can only be known by an embodied perceiver.
148. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Jeffrey Renaud Rethinking the Repressive Hypothesis: Foucault’s Critique of Marcuse
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In The History of Sexuality, Volume One, Michel Foucault ostensibly sets out to reject the “repressive hypothesis” as an inadequate characterization of the relationship between sex, power and knowledge. Given the obliqueness of his polemical attack against this hypothesis and its representatives, however, some commentators have attempted to elucidate and assess his position by situating Herbert Marcuse’s critique of sexual repression within the ambit of Foucault’s argument. The following essay contributes to this investigation by highlighting Foucault’s implicit and explicit remarks against Marcuse in the first volume of The History of Sexuality and the series of interviews surrounding the publication of this text. I will concentrate on his claim that, by reducing power to a purely “negative,” repressive force exercised against the majority of individuals, Marcuse misses the “positive” or “productive” operations of power that constitute the sexual subject. To address this charge, I depart from the usual procedure of explicating Marcuse’s analysis of sexual repression in Eros and Civilization and turn, instead, to his later work on “repressive desublimation” in One-Dimensional Man, where his emphasis on the productive dimension of repressive power comes into full view. By challenging Foucault’s dismissal of the “repressive hypothesis” on the basis of a more faithful reading of Marcuse, I hope to open up a space for further inquiry into the connections between these two seemingly irreconcilable positions.
149. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Joachim Feldes Alfred von Sybel—A Life Between the Lines
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Though seen in several photographs, Alfred von Sybel remained for many years a rather unknown member of the early phenomenological movement. Detailed documentation of his life and work only became available following research on the “Circle of Bergzabern,” a group comprised of former members from the “Philosophical Society Göttingen”: von Sybel, Conrad, Conrad-Martius, Hering, Koyré, Lipps and Stein, were listed as the seven participants. In the Phänomenologenlied, written in 1907, von Sybel outlined the groups’ approach: “to the things themselves” (zu den Sachen selbst), in a programmatic way, and it became an integral part of their meetings. Following his extensive correspondence, this article reveals von Sybel’s desperate search for fellowship and orientation, which resulted in a very puzzling life. Thus, this first ever-published comprehensive biography of von Sybel mirrors the mysteries surroundingthe song: different versions exist and due to a lack of details it remains a puzzle which version is the original one.
150. Symposium: Volume > 17 > Issue: 2
Jim Vernon Liberation Theology: Hegel on Why Philosophy Takes Sides in Religion Conflict
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Hegel famously identifies Protestant conscience and its corresponding state as reflecting the unity of ethical and religious principles, thereby bringing into actuality the truth of human spirit. However, he also reminds us that it is vital to free states that the Church remain divided, rather than unifying into one sect. Thus, he affirms a secular state above religious conflict, but explicitly takes sides in one such conflict, out of the interest philosophy has in the development of the Protestant nation-state. In this paper, I resolve this tension by articulating Hegel’s account of philosophy’s interest in historical movements in general, and of the historical relationship between religion and the state in particular. Focusing on his account of the contemporary struggle between Catholicism and Lutheranism,I then develop an account of philosophy’s interest in religious conflict. I close with some schematic remarks on the ‘Hegelianism’ of some recent Catholic movements.
151. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Omar Rivera Mariátegui's Avant-Garde and Surrealism as Discipline
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This essay explains Mariátegui’s critical relationship with Breton in terms of his views on Surrealism. In order to understand this relationship, this essay engages in an analysis of (i) Mariátegui’s notion of the avant-garde as a synthesis of aesthetics and politics and of (ii) the positioning of Mariátegui’s avant-garde in relation to post First World War European bourgeoisie and fascism. This interpretation of Mariátegui’s reveals a determination of Surrealism as discipline that preserves this movement’s revolutionary task in different geo-historical sites. With attention to the difficult, non-systematic character of Mariátegui’s writings, this essay also provides a series of concepts that could assist further interpretations of Mariátegui’s aesthetics and politics.
152. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Debra Bergoffen (Un)Gendering Vulnerability: Re-scripting the Meaning of Male-Male Rape
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The testimonies of men raped by men in Uganda indicate that the meaning of rape as an aggression that enforces the gendering of women as vulnerable and therefore dependent on men's protection needs to be reformulated to account for the fact that being raped transforms a man into a woman. In describing their humiliation, these men reveal that gendered masculinity is grounded in a flight from vulnerability that depends on the presence of vulnerable/rapeable victim bodies. Their words teach us that as long as men's illicit identity as autonomous and invulnerable is illegitimately secured by stigmatizing vulnerability, heterosexual and male-male rape will be used to denigrate women and men alike. They indicate that the antidote to the scourge of rape lies in delegitimizing gender systems that victimize vulnerability and in creating cultural norms that recognize vulnerability as inherent in the interdependence and dignity of the human condition.
153. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Lois Parkinson Zamora Exuberance by Design: New World Baroque and the Politics of Postcoloniality
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My essay consists of three parts. In the first section, I review the historical context of Baroque aesthetics as it is developed during the late 16th and 17th centuries in Europe and then I track its development in Latin America into the third quarter of the 18th century. The principled excess of the Baroque, to adapt Cyrano de Bergerac’s formulation cited below, was designed for theological and imperial purposes. Secondly, I address more recent literature and literary theory. Why, in the early 20th century, did Latin American poets, novelists, essayists and critics begin to rediscover, recover and reconstitute Baroque modes of expression? What was it about this Catholic, monarchical, colonizing aesthetic that now seemed suited to postcolonial purposes? I refer to several theorists and writers who pioneered and/or inspired the 20th-century idea of the New World Baroque as a rebellious retort to Europe rather than a passive reflection. My third section considers how to teach the politics of Baroque aesthetics, and why Baroque aesthetics remains relevant today.
154. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Kenneth Dorter Thought and Expression in Spinoza and Shankara
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Philosophers from traditions that are not only entirely different but apparently uninfluenced by each other sometimes show remarkable similarities. In the case of Spinoza and Shankara such similarities include the dual-aspect model according to which the apparent pluralism of the world rests on an inadequate perception of its oneness, and the way the overcoming of that inadequacy is conceived as a liberation from the passions and an achievement of immortality. A significant difference between the two, however, is that Spinoza's explanations are epistemologically conceived while Shankara's are conceived ontologically. Not that Spinoza lacked an ontology or Shankara an epistemology, but rather their explanatory approaches emphasize the differences of the worlds within which they wrote.
155. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Fiona Utley Considerations Towards a Phenomenology of Trust
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Merleau-Ponty identifies an intertwined affective state of anxiety and courage, claiming that these are one and the same thing, as a fundamental characteristic of human existence. I argue that trust, understood as phenomenologically basic, is the unity, or the something beyond, the singularly conceived states of anxiety and courage, and that trust itself cannot be conceived apart from these states. Merleau-Ponty says little, directly, about trust in his work, yet his focus on the fundamental precariousness of existence demands such an exploration. I explore how our ordinary day-to-day experience of existence is related to an intertwined affective state of anxiety and courage and how trust is operative in affective depth, in order to understand how it is we come to speak of trust not only in terms of proximity and distance, emotional depth and extension across time, but most markedly, in terms of how we see someone and what it is like to be in relation to them.
156. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Martine Béland Nietzsche’s Greek Ethics: His Early Ethical Symptomatology Reconstructed
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This paper seeks to circumscribe the concepts, sources, and limits of Nietzsche’s early ethical thought through a reconstruction of his ethical "symptomatology." In the 1870s, Nietzsche stressed that the Greeks understood the true nature of the political phenomenon, and that this could correct fundamental errors that were responsible for the illness of German culture. His definition of the Greek ethos radically challenges modern democratic politics through a reassertion of aristocratic, heroic, and agonistic values. But because Nietzsche did not systematically describe his early ethics, a reconstruction is necessary. His metaphor of the philosopher as a “physician of culture” is a guide for this reconstruction. Using concepts of wellness and illness, Nietzsche identified different symptoms and possible remedies, and hoped to cure German culture through a therapeutic transvaluation of modernity. To reconstruct this symptomatology I turn to The Greek State, Homer’s Contest, and The Birth of Tragedy. First, I define the notions of “agon” and “eris” that are central to his reading of Greek ethics. I then describe four ethical symptoms and their remedies. I conclude with interpretative hypotheses that address issues that were left unanswered by Nietzsche. This symptomatology shows that his reading of Greek ethics functions as a radical—albeit fragmentary—normative critique of his time, and of our democratic age.
157. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Amy A. Oliver Context and Kant in the Aesthetics of José Enrique Rodó and Samuel Ramos
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In the classic essays Ariel (1900) and Filosofía de la vida artística (1950), the Uruguayan José Enrique Rodó (1872–1917) and the Mexican Samuel Ramos (1897–1959) present distinctive and divergent claims about aesthetics. While Rodó asserts the existence of an innate and abundant aesthetic sensibility among Latin Americans, Ramos believes that aesthetic experience is relatively rare and that aesthetic sensibility needs to be cultivated. While historical grounding in the Latin American context is missing in the works of both Rodó and Ramos, Ariel contains an argument for an innate Latin American aesthetic sensibility linked to high moral development along with the hope that Latin America's youth will use their aesthetic and moral gifts to advance Latin America's place in the 20th century. In Filosofía de la vida artística, Ramos argues that the aesthetic experience in Mexico is far from innate or even widespread: on the contrary, it is rare and much in need of further development. Kant, referenced by both Rodó and Ramos, in his Critique of Judgment, argues against a relationship between aesthetic sensibility and moral capacity. Rodó, then, is at odds with Kant while Ramos's view is closer to Kant's.
158. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Dezső Csejtei Ortega’s Aesthetics: A Dialogue between Spanish Reality and European Aesthetic Currents
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Ortega’s philosophy can be conceived as a permanent dialogue between contemporary European spiritual currents and Spanish reality. The following paper tries to justify this statement in the field of aesthetics. We examine the main intellectual periods of Ortega’s oeuvre from this point of view, beginning with neo-Kantianism, moving to his encounter with phenomenology and life-philosophies, adding a touch of existentialist thinking and, finally, reaching the balance of a hermeneutical life-philosophy in his books on Velázquez and Goya
159. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Bryan Lueck Exposition and Obligation: A Serresian Account of Moral Sensitivity
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In The Troubadour of Knowledge, Michel Serres demonstrates, by means of an extended discussion of learning, that our capacity to adopt a position presupposes a kind of disorienting exposure to a dimension of pure possibility that both subtends and destabilizes that position. In this paper I trace out the implications of this insight for our understanding of obligation, especially as it is articulated in the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Specifically, I argue that obligation is given along with a dimension of moral possibility, and not, as Kant thought, as an unmediated fact of reason.
160. Symposium: Volume > 18 > Issue: 1
Mario J. Valdés Philosophical Hermeneutics and the Concept of Literary Art in Mexico
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This essay deals with two poetics of distinctly different traditions that arrived at the same concept of literary art, one in which the reader of, or listener to, a poem shares in the creative process with the poet. The first tradition I will examine is the that of the pre-Hispanic Mexican poets of the Cantares mexicanos and the 20th- century appropriation of their work by two of Mexico's most distinguished poets, Octavio Paz (1914–1998) and ]ose Emilio Pacheco (1939–2014), both awarded the Premio Cervantes, and Paz, the Nobel Prize. The second part of this essay examines the contemporary Continental tradition of philosophical hermeneutics that began with Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900–2001) and culminated in the work of Paul Ricoeur (1913– 2005). Although Heidegger is now well known among philosophers throughout the world, it should be noted that ]ose Gaos of the National University of Mexico, an exile from Spain, completed the first translation of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit in 1951, more than a decade before the English and French translations appeared.