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161. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Edward Fullbrook, Kate Fullbrook Merleau-Ponty on Beauvoir’s Literary-Philosophical Method
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Modern philosophy from the mid-nineteenth century on, has been particularly interested in choosing, adapting, and in some cases inventing literary forms to fit the particular philosophical subject under investigation. Simone de Beauvoir, with her explicit rejection of any formalist division between literature and philosophy, is one of the most interesting contributors to the modern development of philosophical writing. The waters surrounding de Beauvoir’s contribution to philosophical method are somewhat muddled because the literary forms she used innovatively for philosophy — the novel and the short story — have (unlike, for example, the literary forms of Wittgenstein) resulted in writing which has been chiefly esteemed largely in terms of literature. In fact, many of her compositions rest simultaneously in both the categories of literature and philosophy. The significance of this aspect of her work was recognized by some of her contemporary philosophical associates, most particularly Merleau-Ponty. This paper draws on Merleau-Ponty to explore the philosophical ideas which inspired de Beauvoir’s methodology, and considers the nature and ramifications of her originality in terms of philosophy’s tradition of methodological diversity.
162. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Hugh Bredin Ironies and Paradoxes
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In contemporary literary culture there is a widespread belief that ironies and paradoxes are closely akin. This is due to the importance that is given to the use of language in contemporary estimations of literature. Ironies and paradoxes seem to embody the sorts of a linguistic rebellion, innovation, deviation, and play, that have throughout this century become the dominant criteria of literary value. The association of irony with paradox, and of both with literature, is often ascribed to the New Criticism, and more specifically to Cleanth Brooks. Brooks, however, used the two terms in a manner that was unconventional, even eccentric, and that differed significantly from their use in figurative theory. I therefore examine irony and paradox as verbal figures, noting their characteristic features and criteria, and, in particular, how they differ from one another (for instance, a paradox means exactly what it says whereas an irony does not). I argue that irony and paradox — as understood by Brooks — have important affinities with irony and paradox as figures, but that they must be regarded as quite distinct, both in figurative theory and in Brooks’ extended sense.
163. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Margaret G. Holland Can Fiction be Philosophy?
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This paper examines the relation between philosophy and literature through an analysis of claims made by Martha Nussbaum regarding the contribution novels can make to moral philosophy. Perhaps her most controversial assertion is that some novels are themselves works of moral philosophy. I contrast Nussbaum’s view with that of Iris Murdoch. I discuss three claims which are fundamental to Nussbaum’s position: the relation between writing style and content; philosophy’s inadequacy in preparing agents for moral life because of its reliance on rules; and the usefulness of the moral work engaged in by readers of novels. The evaluation of these claims requires a discussion of the nature of philosophy. I find that Murdoch and Nussbaum agree on the ability of literature to contribute to moral understanding, but disagree on the issue of what philosophy is. Therefore, they disagree on the question of whether certain works of fiction are also works of philosophy. I argue that the task Nussbaum assigns philosophy is too broad. Through the use of critical and reflective methods, philosophy should examine and sort moral claims. Literary, philosophical and religious texts contribute to moral eduction; keeping them separate helps us appreciate their distinct contributions, as well as respect their distinct aims and methods. Therefore, I conclude that Nussbaum’s inclusion of certain novels in philosophy cannot be sustained.
164. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Edward G. Lawry Knowledge as Lucidity: “Summer in Algiers”
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This early essay by Albert Camus presents an eloquent picture of his understanding of what it means to know. But in order for us to assimilate it, we must recognize that Camus is not celebrating a hedonic naturalism, nor engaging in an existential anti-intellectualism. Rather, his articulation of lucidity and the exemplification of it in the artistry of the essay itself presents us with a challenging concept of knowledge. I attempt to explicate this concept with the help of two images, one from the musical Hair and one from the movie The Pawnbroker, thus seeking to reinforce Camus' reliance upon image as the equivalent of idea.
165. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Maria Pia Lara Narrative Cultural Interweavings: Between Facts and Fiction
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This essay investigates the new meaning of human capabilities that can be drawn out of the feminist model. Drawing on a further elaboration of narratives and the dynamics established between the public sphere and the new emergent publics, I explain how such moral narratives constitute the symbolic order in three stages of 'mimetic representation' (Ricoeur). This model articulates the feedbacks between specific historical moments when 'lay narratives' are invented in response to a particular challenge; the subsequent creative process of the initial construction of the literary narrative; and the return to the experiential dimension of the readers, where narratives gain influence and transform previous ways of seeing things, the process that can occur both contemporaneously and decades or centuries earlier.
166. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Sycheva Svetlana Georgiyevna The Problem of Symbol in Philosophy
167. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Salam Hawa Language as Freedom in Sartre’s Philosophy
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I argue that Sartre posits language as a medium of communication that is capable of safeguarding the development of subjectivity and freedom. Language does this in a twofold manner: on the one hand, it is an action that does not phenomenally alter being, but that has the capacity of altering consciousness; on the other hand, language, more particularly written text, is a mode of communication that is delayed, hence that occurs outside the present, i.e. in a different space and a deferred time. As such, it preserves the subjectivity of both writer and reader. The argument is as follows: first, I present Sartre’s definition of freedom and subjectivity in terms of his definition of consciousness of the For-itself and In-itself in Being and Nothingness; second, I draw on examples from La Nausée to illustrate the link between language, consciousness and the expression of freedom and subjectivity; third, I refer to The Psychology of Imagination and What is Literature? to illustrate further the importance that Sartre places on writing and reading as means to establish a lasting impression of personal freedom and subjectivity in a manner that defies space and time.
168. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Karin Littau The Primal Scattering of Languages: Philosophies, Myths and Genders
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In After Babel, George Steiner recounts ‘two main conjectures’ in mythology which explain ‘the mystery of many tongues on which a view of translation hinges.’ One such mythic tale is the tower of Babel, which not only Steiner, but also Jacques Derrida after him, take as their starting point to approach the question of translation; the other conjecture tells of 'some awful error [which] was committed, an accidental release of linguistic chaos, in the mode of Pandora’s Box' (Steiner). This paper will take this other conjecture, the myth of Pandora, first woman of the Greek creation myth, as its point of departure, not only to offer a feminized version of the primal scattering of languages, but to rewrite in a positive light and therefore also toreverse the negative and misogynist association of Pandora with "man’s" fall. But, rather than exposing the entrenched patriarchal bias in mythographers’ interpretations of Pandora, my foremost aim is to pose, through her figure, questions about language and woman, and, by extension, the mother tongue and female sexuality.
169. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Phillip Stambovsky Keats and the Senses of Being: “Ode on a Grecian Urn” (Stanza V)
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With its focus on the pathos of permanence versus temporality as human aporia and on the function — the Werksein — of the work of art genuinely encountered, John Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn is a particularly compelling subject for philosophical analysis. The major explications of this most contentiously debated ode in the language have largely focused, however, on various combinations of the poem’s stylistic, structural, linguistic, psychological, aesthetic, historical, symbolic, and intellectual-biographical elements. My paper articulates a bona fide philosophical approach to the ode’s famously controversial fifth stanza (the one containing the Urn’s declaration: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty"). I demonstrate how William Desmond’s metaphysics of Being-specifically his analysis of the univocal, equivocal, dialectical, and metaxological senses of being-affords the groundwork for a "hermeneutics of the between" that elucidates the ode’s culminating stanza with all of the cogency and nuance that one would expect to derive from a systematic ontology.
170. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Martin Warner Rhetoric, Paideia and the Phaedrus
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Some of the notorious interpretive puzzles of the Phaedrus arise from reading it in terms of a static version of mimesis; hence, the concerns about its apparent failure to enact its own norms and the status of its own self-commentaries. However, if the dialogue is read in the light of the more dynamic model of a perfectionist paideia — that is, Plato’s portrayal of Socrates as attempting to woo Phaedrus to philosophy (with only partial success) is itself a rhetorical attempt to woo the appropriate reader — then many of the puzzles fall into place as part of the rhetorical strategy. The apparent lack of formal unity arises out of Phaedrus’ own deficiencies; the written dialogue turns out precisely not to fall foul of the criticisms of writing that it contains, and its self-commentaries can be given their appropriate ironic weight. On this reading, a Platonic conception of philosophy that embodies yet transcends the dialectical is given persuasive expression.
171. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
David Sprintzen A Tragic Vision for a New Millenium: The Contemporary Relevance of Albert Camus
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After 350 years of continual social transformations under the push of industrialization, capitalism, world-wide social revolutions, and the development of modern science, what reasonably remains of the traditional faith in divine transcendence and providential design except a deep-felt, almost 'ontological' yearning for transcendence? Torn between outmoded religious traditions and an ascendant secular world, the contemporary celebration of individuality only makes more poignant the need for precisely that religious consolation that public life increasingly denies. People must now confront the meaning of their lives without the assured aid of transcendent purpose and direction. The resulting sense of absence profoundly marks the contemporary world. Confronted with the theoretical problems posed by the absence of absolute values, and the historical problems posed by contemporary social movements, Camus dramatized the urgency of developing guides to humane conduct in a world without transcendence. He continued to believe that only when the dignity of the worker and the respect for intelligence are accorded their rightful place can human existence hope to realize its highest ideals, and our life find the collective meaning and purpose that alone can truly sustain us in the face of an infinite and indifferent universe.
172. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 21
Carlin Romano America the Philosophical
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Although convention dictates that America is an unphilosophical sort of country, fonder of Super Bowls than supervenience, the development of philosophy away from Socratic strategies that presume eternal right answers to the classical philosophical problems suggests a second look is in order. This is particularly true if one accepts many of the notions currently in the air about "post-modern" or "post-analytic" philosophy — that its roots lie in classical rhetoric and pragmatism, or that its notion of truth holds the latter to be what issues from the most wide-open sort of informed deliberation possible. In that case, it begins to seem as if America is to philosophy as Italy is to art, or Norway to skiing: a perfectly designed environment for the practice. This, at least, is the provocation intended by this paper.
173. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 22
Philip Cafaro Thoreau on Science and System
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Though best known as a literary figure, Henry Thoreau showed a lasting interest in science. He read widely in the scientific literature of his day and published one the first scholarly discussions on forest succession. In fact, some historians rate Thoreau as one of the founders of the modern science of ecology. At the same time, Thoreau often lamented science’s tendency to kill poetry. Scientific writings coupled with his own careful observations often revealed life to him, but in other ways rendered nature lifeless. Modern-day Thoreauvians are also aware that science has largely become a tool for control and increased consumption, rather than for the appreciation and protection of wild nature. This paper explores some of Thoreau’s reflections on science and "system," and presents his view of the proper role of science in our lives. As will become clear, Thoreau’s worries are occasioned by his own scientific endeavors. His responses to science’s insufficiencies are reformist, suggesting ways to improve and supplement science rather than discard it.
174. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 22
Susan Feldman Some Problems With Ecofeminism
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Karen Warren presents and defends the ecofeminist position that people are wrong in dominating nature as a whole or in part (individual animals, species, ecosystems, mountains), for the same reason that subordinating women to the will and purposes of men is wrong. She claims that all feminists must object to both types of domination because both are expressions of the same "logic of domination." Yet, problems arise with her claim of twin dominations. The enlightenment tradition gave rise to influential versions of feminism and provided a framework which explains the wrongness of the domination of women by men as a form of injustice. Yet on this account, the domination of nature cannot be assimilated to the domination of women. Worse, on the enlightenment framework, the claim that the domination of nature is wrong in the same way that the domination of women is wrong makes no sense, since (according to this framework) domination can only be considered to be unjust when the object dominated has a will. While ecofeminism rejects the enlightenment view, it cannot simply write off enlightenment feminism as non-feminist. It must show that enlightenment feminism is either inauthentic or conceptually unstable.
175. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 22
Józef M. Dolêga Sozology and Ecophilosophy: Sciences of the 20th Century
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This paper contains a synthesized profile of sozology and ecophilosophy, sciences of the end of the 20th century. Sozology is defined as the science of the systematic protection of the biosphere from the destructive effects on it from the anthroposphere. On the other hand, ecophilosophy is understood as the science whose object of study is the essence and nature of the socio-natural environment, its quantitative and qualitative properties and the causal dependence between the anthroposphere and biosphere. I hope that both these sciences will enter permanently into the world’s educational systems in the 21st century.
176. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 22
Jason Kawall Environmental Diversity and the Value of the Unusual
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It is commonplace to call for the protection of environmental diversity. I develop an often overlooked reason for preserving diversity: we should preserve diversity in order to preserve the unusual. I show that we do in fact value the unusual, and that we should value the unusual (pace Rolston and Russow). Recognizing the value of the unusual provides a foundation for valuing species not otherwise considered valuable.
177. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 22
David R. Keller Ecological Hermeneutics
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To what extent does Hans-Georg Gadamer’s theory of science provide a basis for the articulation of an ecological hermeneutics? As "hermeneutics" is the art of interpretation and understanding, "ecological hermeneutics" is understood as the act of interpreting the impact of technology within the lifeworld. I consider the potential for ecological hermeneutics based upon Gadamer’s theory of science. First, I outline his theory of science. Second, I delineate ecological hermeneutics as an application of this theory. Third, I discuss what can be expected from the act of ecological hermeneutics. Finally, I make some general comments about the affinity between ecological hermeneutics and brute common-sense.
178. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 22
Roger J.H. King Educational Literacy in the Context of Environmental Ethics
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I explore the concept of literacy and the role it might play in environmental ethics. One of the goals of environmental ethics is to describe and contribute to the creation of an ecologically responsible culture. The creation of such a culture requires the development of knowledge and abilities that will help sustain such a culture. Since education is one of the key institutions for instilling values and world views, it is important for environmental philosophers to think about the institutionalization of environmental theories in terms of their implications for the environmentally literate person. I argue that attention to literacy is significant for two reasons. First, it provides one way of evaluating the differences between competing environmental philosophies. Second, it raises the important question of what kind of person is required to carry out a particular vision of environmental responsibility. By addressing the issue of education and literacy, philosophers interested in environmental ethics can help create a vision of citizens who have democratically internalized and integrated environmental values and priorities rather than having them imposed from above.
179. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 22
Ricardo Rozzi The Dialectical Links Between Environmental Ethics and Sciences
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Ecologists formulate their scientific theories influenced by ethical values, and in turn, environmental ethicists value nature based on scientific theories. Darwinian evolutionary theory provides clear examples of these complex links, illustrating how these reciprocal relationships do not constitute a closed system, but are undetermined and open to the influences of two broader worlds: the sociocultural and the natural environment. On the one hand, the Darwinian conception of a common evolutionary origin and ecological connectedness has promoted a respect for all forms of life. On the other hand, the metaphors of struggle for existence and natural selection appear as problematic because they foist onto nature the Hobbesian model of a liberal state, a Malthusian model of the economy, and the productive practice of artificial selection, all of which reaffirm modern individualism and the profit motive that are at the roots of our current environmental crisis. These metaphors were included in the original definitions of ecology and environmental ethics by Haeckel and Leopold respectively, and are still pervasive among both ecologists and ethicists. To suppose that these Darwinian notions, derived from a modern-liberal worldview, are a fact of nature constitutes a misleading interpretation. Such supposition represents a serious impediment to our aim of transforming our relationship with the natural world in order to overcome the environmental crisis. To achieve a radical transformation in environmental ethics, we need a new vision of nature.
180. The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 22
Erazim Kohak Truth of the Myths of Nature
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The term "nature myths" designates narratives presenting whatis as intelligible in terms of value and meaning. Such narratives function to motivate ecological activism by articulating such presuppositions as the conviction that what we do matters, destruction of nature is intrinsically wrong, and the possibility of nondestructive human beings. However, such narratives motivate only if they are regarded in some sense as true. The question is, in what sense? Not in an objectivist sense (e.g. von Ranke), since value-even if intrinsic-is a subject related reality. Not in an idealist sense (e.g. Cassirer), since they respect the autonomy of reality. Nor in a "depth" sense of expressing an alleged "essential condition of guilt" (e.g. Heidegger and Patocka), since this would remain a positivist description, albeit one level removed. Instead, I propose treating nature myths as orienting the world (e.g. Jaspers) and guiding human components therein. As such, nature myths can be said to be true (as in Ricoeur’s "adamic" myth) or false (as in the myth of "Man the Master") inasmuch as they provide or fail to provide adequate guidance for sustainable coexistence with all of the Earth.