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61. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
John Haydn Gurmin Issue Editor’s Introduction
62. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Alan Forde A Response to Yablo’s Ontological Fictionalism
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In a series of recent articles Stephen Yablo argues the case for mathematical fictionalism on the basis that a Quinean approach to ontology is undermined by an indeterminacy about which objects we should be committed to. Yablo has developed a series of semantic models purporting to show that there is no principled way to separate out genuine from apparent ontological commitments. In this paper I focus on his argument that mathematical discourse is metaphorical. I argue that Yablo’s criticism relies on a misunderstanding of the status of Quine’s naturalised ontology. In particular, the indeterminacy Yablo identifies in ontology is common place in all scientific theories, and just as it is not a sufficient reason for abandoning any other scientific theory so is it not sufficient to abandon ontology. I conclude by arguing that Yablo’s presentation of fictionalism as a return to a Carnap style ‘quizzical’ attitude to ontology is equally problematic.
63. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Yinya Liu Discussion of the Ethical Significance of Language in the Philosophy of Heidegger and Levinas
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This article investigates the ethical significance of language in relation to Heidegger and Levinas’s thought. It first examines the prerequisites of the discussion of language based on the concepts of Being (Heidegger) and the Other (Levinas). Then, it deals with the concept of time as an essential element in understanding language. Thirdly, it compares Heidegger’s ontological-language and Levinas’s ethical-language, highlighting Levinas’s critique of Heidegger’s ethical deficiency, especially in Heidegger’s articulation on language. The paper argues that Levinas’s emphasis on the priority and exteriority of the Other in our relation to language both reveals and replaces Heidegger’s mystical significance of language as ‘the House of Being’.
64. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
John Haydn Gurmin Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris: An Analysis of Free Will and Determinism
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The question of free will is a perennial one. With new insights from modern science much reflection is given again to the problem of determinism, and the possibility of human freedom. Richard Dawkins argues that our genes need to be taken into account when considering the question of whether we are free. Daniel Dennett argues for free will from within the context of an evolutionary framework, thereby giving freedom a naturalistic grounding. Both these thinkers operate from within the neo-Darwinian framework, allowing for the possibility of freedom, against the backdrop of determinism/materialism. One other thinker arising out of the neo-Darwinian framework is the neuroscientist Sam Harris. In his publication Free Will, Harris argues that the concept of free will is incoherent, he appeals to arguments from neuroscience to ‘prove’ that we are not free, outlining that the content of experience is not a free choice, the content is produced out of a complex interaction with the individual, and the environment. For a human being to truly have a free choice, Harris argues we would need to be given access to everything that gives rise to the choice. As Harris draws from findings in neuroscience, discussion will be given to the question of Benjamin Libet’s famous neurological experiment, and the wider discussion of consciousness. The paper argues for the possibility of a compatibilist model of free will in line with Dawkins and Dennett’s approach. Concluding that the naturalist model of explanation has a lot of detail to furnish before it could be proven that free will is an illusion.
65. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Denise Ryan Avicenna (980-1037) on the Internal Senses, Emanation and Human Intellect
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The focus of this paper is on Avicenna’s treatment of the nature and possibility of human knowledge, paying particular attention to his theory of imagination and his theory of the intellect. Despite his dualistic approach to the nature of the human being, Avicenna can be interpreted as positing a link, albeit a weak link, between the body and mind. Avicenna develops the Aristotelian conception of imagination by positing five internal senses. An examination of each of the five senses will be helpful in understanding Avicenna’s theory of imagination more clearly and his views on the relationship between body and soul.
66. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Declan Kavanagh Beyond Toleration: Queer Theory and Heteronormativity
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The recent widespread transformation in the conjugal rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people across much of the globe may seem to suggest that, at long last, the history of heterosexism has reached its terminus. In Ireland, the Equal Marriage Referendum in May 2015 offered the opportunity for the citizens of the Republic to extend the same rights, permissions, and privileges to same-sex couples that married heterosexual couples freely enjoy. The passing of that referendum and the extension of these rights to same-sex couples denotes a move beyond societal tolera6tion toward societal acceptance, yet it remains to be seen whether or not the affordance of conjugal rights to LGBT people will necessarily mean that all queer subjects will be given the same acceptance.This article examines equal marriage and its potential engendering of binary divisions between queer subjects who adhere to the logic of cultural heteronormativity and those who transgress its structuring forces. It aims to historicise the discourse that surrounds gay marriage by tracing these debates back to the Enlightenment's production of the companionate marriage. The works of Edmund Burke, his aesthetic writings and political speeches, provide the textual basis for an examination of 'normative desire' in the eighteenth century. The article contends that assessing the eighteenth century's regime of heteronormativity will allow us to see the provisional nature of our own heterosexist cultural formations.
67. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Steven Lydon Nietzsche’s Interpretation of Chladni’s Sound Figures
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Friedrich Nietzsche's reference to Ernst Chladni in ‘On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense’ (1873) could easily be overlooked as a casual analogy. Yet it emerges from a systematic engagement with the nascent field of acoustics. Chladni was among the discipline's founding fathers, having honed the application of rigorous empirical testing to sound and music. His name is most enduringly associated with the discovery of the 'sound figures', which rendered sound visible for the first time. To produce them, Chladni scattered sand onto a metal sheet. A note was then emitted by playing a violin bow against its side. The resulting oscillations prompted the sand to settle in a range of symmetrical patterns. The natural beauty of the shapes made them quite famous. Yet they also represented a mystery. Though the formula for calculating the oscillation of single strings was reliable, it could not easily be reconciled with oscillation in two dimensions. In lieu of an explanation, the sound figures became the object of speculative attention. Their existence posed a difficulty for the quantitative ontology of rationalist metaphysics. The inheritors of Schelling, for example, saw in the sound figures an undeciphered language of nature. But Nietzsche was implacably opposed to this position: for him, nature contains no inherent meaning, no rational order, and no divine teleology. The ‘book of nature’ was at best an anthropomorphic projection, and at worst a theological dogma. Thus reframed, Chladni's sound figures confront us not with the infinite mystery of nature, but our own cognitive impotence. The following essay therefore elaborates the provenance of Nietzsche's sound figure analogy: a rare intersection of scientific experiment and speculative philosophy.
68. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
William Desmond The Gift of Beauty and the Passion of Being
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This is a reflection on the gift of beauty and the passion of being in light of the fact that today we often meet an ambiguous attitude to beauty. Beauty seems bland and lacks the more visceral thrill of the ugly, indeed the excremental. We crave what disrupts and provokes us. Bland beauty seems to be the death of originality. How then be open at all to beauty as gift? In fact, we often are disturbed paradoxically by beauty: both taken out of ourselves, hence disquieted, yet awakened to our being at home with beauty. Beauty arouses enigmatic joy in us, and we enjoy an elemental rapport with it as other. Surprised by beauty, our breath is taken away; we are more truly there with the beautiful yet taken outside of ourselves: both at home with ourselves and not at home, in being beyond ourselves. We are first receivers of the gift of surprise and only then perceivers and conceivers. My attention to the passion of being stresses a patience, a receptivity to what is other. What happens is not first our construction. Our being disarmed by the beautiful I hold to be in tune with our being as marked most deeply by what I call a primal ‘porosity’ to being. Beauty sensuously communicates in and through this awakened porosity. We are a patience of being before we are an endeavour to be. In modern aesthetics and culture, originating receptivity tends to be downplayed as a depreciation of our claims to creative power. The predominant stress often falls on human autonomy, such that we love only what we construct ourselves, not what we receive. By contrast, I argue there is something of the godsend in what is truly beautiful. This might not be a fashionable way of talking but the vocation of the philosopher is not to be fashionable but to be true.
69. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Fionntán de Brún Escaping the ‘Shower of Folly’: The Irish Language, Revivalism, and the History of Ideas
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The Irish language represents a material link ensuring continuity between the past and present of the Irish experience, but as that link has gradually been obscured, the language has become a form of alterity, indicated in the notion of Gaelic Ireland going ‘underground’. The choice between maintaining the continuity of the Irish literary tradition and abandoning it was characterized by Franciscan theologian and philosopher Froinsias Ó Maolmhuaidh (Francis O’Molloy) as the choice between keeping one’s reason and embracing folly. Thus, his envoi to the first printed Irish grammar in 1677 exhorts the people of Ireland to engage in a revival of literacy in the Irish language so as to transform their future by keeping faith with the past. Yet the desire to revive past knowledge or values is problematic. Is it possible, as the Irish revivalist Douglas Hyde desired, to ‘render the present a rational continuation of the past’? Or is it the case that revivals are attempts at a renewal of tradition, involving a dialectical transition similar to Hegel’s notion of Aufhebung? This inaugural lecture considers this question and the wider implications of revival by situating the Irish tradition of Revivalism within the broader history of ideas.
70. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Philipp W. Rosemann Leonard Cohen, Philosopher
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This paper, which the author delivered as his inaugural lecture as the Chair of Philosophy at Maynooth University, explores the relationship between philosophy, poetry, and religion. Through a line-by-line interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Steer Your Way’, it discovers the poet in a space between postmodern disillusionment and a desire for faith. What opens Cohen to the latter is specifically the experience of pain and brokenness, which lead him to the figure of Jesus. The paper concludes with a reflection on Richard Kearney’s notion of ‘anatheism’, the return to a ‘God after God’.
71. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Edith Stein, James Smith, Mette Lebech Truth and Clarity in Teaching and Education
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Between 1923 and 1933, Edith Stein worked as a teacher at a Dominican girls’ school in the German town of Speyer. Her experiences, combined with her philosophical background and her religious faith, inspired her writings on the philosophy of education, including her first public lecture: ‘Wahrheit und Klarheit im Unterricht und in der Erziehung’, delivered in 1926. In this text, Stein discusses ideas that had been raised in a set of guidelines and themes given to teachers for their work in the school year. Stein focuses on the concepts of ‘truth’ and ‘clarity’, exploring the epistemological meanings of these terms, their significance in guiding the work of teaching, and their importance for the entire upbringing (Erziehung) of a child, with particular reference to preparing him or her for life as a Christian. Stein’s lecture is here presented in a German-English parallel text translation, along with a short introduction by the translators discussing the text in its historical and philosophical context.
72. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Jonathan Gorman Traditions in Philosophy of History
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I summarize the history of twentieth-century theorizing about history by historians and by philosophers of different traditions. I clarify the nature of ‘analytical’ philosophy, with philosophical arguments imagined to exist in a shared atemporal space. Analytical philosophy of history largely presupposed David Hume’s empiricism, explicit in Carl Hempel’s 1942 analysis of historical explanation as causal. Others argued for reasons instead, but by 1965 analytical philosophers were analysing historical narratives. Many theorists were unclear about the nature of philosophical method, and ‘empathizing’ with them is fruitful. Empathy is here analysed as shared imagination, where the space imagined is not atemporal but time-extended. Making meaningful sense of our shared world requires the denial of Hume’s view that ‘complexes’ are built entirely out of ‘simples’, and we can think of historical narratives as units of time-extended empirical significance. That we can make our world is argued for and illustrated.
73. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Cyril McDonnell The Origins of the Husserl-Heidegger Philosophical Dispute in Twentieth-Century Phenomenology
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This paper investigates the different ‘scientific’ methods of enquiry that were proposed by Brentano, Dilthey, and Husserl in late nineteenth-century philosophy as background to understanding the philosophical dispute that later emerged between Husserl and Heidegger regarding the definition of phenomenology in the twentieth century. It argues that once Heidegger accepts both Dilthey’s approach and hermeneutic method of enquiry into human experiences, he is unable to follow Husserl in his development of Brentano’s idea of a descriptive science of consciousness and its objectivities into an eidetic science of pure intentional consciousness.
74. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 6
Michael Dunne Foreword
75. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 6
Amos Edelheit Issue Editor’s Introduction: Philosophy, not Ignorance!
76. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 6
Ivor Ludlam Thrasymachus in Plato’s Politeia I
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This is part of a forthcoming book analysing Plato’s Politeia as a philosophical drama, in which the participants turn out to be models of various types of psychic constitution, and nothing is said by them which may be considered to be an opinion of Plato himself (with all that that entails for Platonism). The debate in Book I between Socrates and Thrasymachus serves as a test case for the assumptions that the Socratic method involves searching for truth or examining the opinions of interlocutors and that Socrates is the mouthpiece of Plato. Socrates and Thrasymachus are usually assumed to be arguing about justice. In fact, they are going through the motions of an eristic debate, where the aim is not to discover the truth about the matter under discussion but to defeat the opponent by fair means or foul, but especially foul. The outrageous wordplay used by both men is not so obvious in translation, and in any case tends to be ignored or explained away by scholars who assume that Plato the philosopher was writing a philosophical treatise (an exposition of philosophical ideas) and not a philosophical drama (a presentation of philosophically interesting models, to be compared and contrasted by the reader).
77. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 6
Michael Dunne FitzRalph on Mind: A Trinity of Memory, Understanding and Will
78. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 6
Yosef Z. Liebersohn Rejecting Socrates’ Rejection of Retaliation: Gregory Vlastos, Socrates’ Morality, Plato’s Dialogues and Related Issues
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This paper criticizes one of Vlastos’ well-known articles, in which he purports to reveal what he takes to be one of Socrates’ great achievements in ethics. By using what I take to be a more appropriate way of analysing Plato’s dialogues, I show how the same paragraph which is used by Vlastos to corroborate his case proves, in fact, the opposite. What Vlastos regards as “Socrates’ Rejection of Retaliation” turns out to be nothing but an instrument used by Socrates to make Crito look at his own behavior towards the polis. In a wider context, Plato’s Crito is shown to be a severe criticism of democracy, where the lex talionis is rather one of its dominant tools used both by the state and its citizens.
79. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 6
John Glucker Α Ι Τ Ι Ο Σ and Cognates: the Cart and the Horse
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This article discusses some methodological issues concerning the nature of the study of ancient philosophy, and especially the relation between the precise historical and philological reading of the ancient texts and the philosophical speculation about what these texts mean, or (as is often the case) what one thinks that they should, or must, mean. I take as a specimen of the ‘more philosophical’ approach two articles by Michael Frede, both from his Essays in Ancient Philosophy. In his Introduction, Frede seems to base what he regards as the proper study of the ancient philosophical texts on the detection in these texts of what he calls “good reasons”, which he identifies with “what we ourselves would regard as good reasons”. This would imply – in this particular case – that the criteria employed by a contemporary analytic philosopher should serve as the acid test of the validity of any historical reconstruction of what an ancient philosopher – who had no idea whatsoever of analytic philosophy (or of any other modern philosophical fashion) – really meant. Purely historical considerations, according to Frede, should only serve in the last resort, in cases where we have failed to detect “good reasons”. To illustrate the consequences of such an approach, I discuss some of the features of the other article, ‘The Original Notion of Cause’, showing that, while it makes some very useful contributions to elucidating Stoic concepts of causality, it sheds no light on the earlier meanings of αἴτιος and αἰτία as two of the main, and original, Greek concepts of causation. This is demonstrated through a brief (and very basic) survey of the development of these two concepts from Homer to the early fourth century.
80. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 6
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