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Patrick S. O'Donnell
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So nice to hear from you Mark ... and my pleasure! I return again and again to your posts about Havel and my passionate interest in the means and methods of civil resistance in East-Central Europe during the period of the "velvet" revolutions remains as vigorous as ever (although at the moment I'm studying the history of liberation struggles in South Africa). All good wishes & in solidarity, Patrick
Toggle Commented Jan 6, 2017 on Charter 77: 6 January 1977 at
Well, a comparison has in fact been made with Turkey:
Standing up to "those who would use violence to silence everybody else," or "speak[ing] without fear that somebody is going to kill us," does not necessarily entail or mean that we need to deliberately (that is, act with the sole purpose of) or recklessly provoke those who we believe (correctly) to be prone or liable to resort to such violence as one way of achieving their ends. We can exemplify our convictions, values, determination, courage, what have you, in this regard simply by going about our lives or doing the things we routinely do, as in the manner we behaved prior to such "jihadist" attempts, threats, and acts of intimidation: in other words, we need not go out of our way to fashion freakish forums of amplified bigotry and hatred, events bereft of any redeeming or rationally defensible social, cultural, or political purpose or value, forums that serve no other purpose other than to illustrate an ill-motivated attempt to goad religious fanatics into acting in ways we know they are perfectly capable of acting without such calculated efforts to accord them an opportunity to play a role they relish to play with a vengeance.
"It is odd indeed that Geller's critics end up resting their case by assuming the very stereotype that she promotes -- that Muslims are predictably violent." Lubet's comment here is precious and revealing. First, it is well known and hardly a revelation that there are "jihadists" everywhere (keeping in mind that this description does not do justice to the concept of jihad in both theological and legal traditions in Islamic history), not just outside the United States (in other words, that some Muslims in this country literally or vicariously identify with their brothers and sisters abroad who have succumbed to this ideology). This has nothing whatsoever to do with, in other words, is not at all dependent upon, the stereotype cited by Lubet, but with the fact that some, again, a comparatively small subset of self-described or self-defined Muslims, are predictably going to respond with violence when they perceive, in this case, egregious insults to the "last of the prophets," Muhammad. These "jihadists" don't recognize the significance of nation-state borders nor respect the ideology of nationalism as such, in other words, they are motivated by a trans-nationalist or supra-nationalist ideology that makes it irrelevant that "[t]here have been no previous incidents of cartoon-related terrorism in the United States." Such jihadists are well aware of what has taken place in Europe and are kindred spirits to those who've left the U.S. to join with ISIL forces abroad. It will suffice that there are some young Muslim men (and perhaps women) in this country who identify with the ideology propagated by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) (the social-psychological reasons have been well documented) or similar such ideologies, and thus have no qualms whatsoever about employing what we understand as terrorist tactics and methods (in other words, have no respect for humanitarian law, human rights, or the 'laws of war,' even the laws of war within their own tradition). "Geller's critics," in other words, need hardly rest their case on the aforementioned stereotype to make their argument.
Dan, That was not, strictly speaking, an analogy: I merely wanted to illustrate a similar case of causal moral overdetermination. For example, let's say (purely hypothetical) there's a block party in our neighborhood. We have some residents who are local gang members who will be attending the party. One of the non-gang-banging members happens to have some friends on the other part of town who are members of another gang. She invites them to the party, knowing full well it's likely that this will cause a fight. Indeed, a fight ensues shortly after their arrival and one of the neighbors who intervenes to break up a fight is stabbed and mortally wounded. Again, the gang-banger who stabbed the individual is morally responsible. But how do we characterize the accountability of the neighbor who invited her gang-member friends knowing full well the likelihood of their attendance causing a violent conflict? Ascribing moral blameworthiness to her actions is not aptly characterized as "allowing violent bullies to dictate what happens and does not happen in society."
I did not say anything that makes or implies anything about “moral responsibility for self-defense against would-be mass murderers.” The case is morally “overdetermined.” Consider, for example, a married couple who invites the estranged father of the daughter, the wife, to come to live with them. The invitation is a result of learning of the elderly man’s difficulties while living on his own and the daughter thinks this might provide an opportunity to mend their relationship. In a short period of time they discover that life with this man is intolerable and that many of his problems are self-caused or require the help of a medical professional (a psychiatrist or psychologist). Indeed, he soon exhibits intense rage on occasion, coming to the precipice of violence but never committing a violent act. The couple decides to place the man in a retirement home in which residents are fairly independent but the institution provides some forms of help: driving, meals if desired, and so forth. The couple says nothing to the administrators of the home about the man’s recent behavior (they’re worried about the cost of getting professional help and wondering what to do with him until such time, so they're anxious to get him out of their home) and he’s accepted as a resident. Not long thereafter, he gets into a fight in the retirement home’s cafeteria, stabbing and killing one resident and another security guard who intervenes. Setting aside the question of possible mental illness, dementia, etc., it’s clear the elderly man is responsible for the two deaths. But what about the couple? Do they not bear some “fractional” morally responsibility for placing the elderly man in the retirement home without informing the administrators about his prior disturbing behavior while living with them?
Oops...penultimate sentence: "...if many philosophers have sufficient appreciation of this fact."
By way of expanding on something Rob said above regarding what might be termed "metaphilosophical" reflections on the nature of science (or 'sciences': natural, social, and 'folk'), and assuming it is true as Roberta says that there's "the value of philosophers engaging with science in a way that can bring clarity to scientific theories or findings, uncover their hidden assumptions (including value-laden assumptions), or shed light on perennial philosophical problems," I wonder if it is worth examining the possibility that some of the anxiety over what constitutes "philosophy of science" is the sense that philosophers of science (and those who question their 'philosophizing') may not have come fully to terms with the fact that science is no longer what John Ziman terms "academic science," that we're now in a world of "post-academic" (hence continuity and difference) science such that the nature of scientific practice has decidedly changed, for better and (perhaps more for the) worse. I wonder if at least some philosophers of science have failed to appreciate this relatively "new model of knowledge production," one that goes hand-in-hand with a "real cultural revolution in its working practices and institutional arrangements." In short, "In less than a generation we have witnessed a radical, irreversible, worldwide transformation in the way that science is organized, managed and performed.* [....] These changes are taking place in all epistemic institutions--universities, research institutes, government establishments and industrial laboratories." Here is where the boundaries between the new field of "science and technology studies (STS) and philosophy of science become blurred and porous, a fact that may cause some philosophers discomfort, particularly those who entertain an older and more idealized picture of what science is all about. Here we enter the realms of "Big Science" and "technoscience," and thus the epistemology of science, as Ziman explains, becomes inextricably tied to its sociology, "primarily at the level of research practice." I doubt there is sufficient appreciation of this by at least some if not most philosophers of science and those doing philosophy generally (that's my impression, but perhaps its skewed or mistaken). This departure more or less from the (Mertonian) norms of academic science finds scientists with few opportunities for control over research questions and agendas, as norms and principles of scientific practice are largely determined by institutional, corporate, and government policies. While this involves explicit and implicit recognition of the "trasnsdisciplinary" nature of many of the practical problems that scientists deal with, it also means the traditional structure of science is "challenged at every turn, affecting personal autonomy, career prospects, performance criteria, leadership roles, intellectual property rights, and so on." To the extent that science is pressed into service for the national Research & Development system, in other words, operates as "wealth-creating, techno-scientific motor for the whole economy" we see more and more that "discoveries are evaluated commercially before they have been validated scientifically," and because many scientists have not been trained to focus first and foremost on the utility of their work (and that, too, may be changing), "expert peer review is enlarged into 'merit review' by non-specialist 'users.'" Multidisciplinary research teams become dependent on project grants in a decidedly market-driven scientific environment. In addition to enhancing the "Matthew effect," "[c]ompetition for real money takes precedence over competition for scientific credibility as the driving force for science. With so many scientists relying completely on research grants or contracts for their personal livelihood, winning these becomes an end in itself. Research groups are transformed into small business enterprises. The metaphorical forum of scientific opinion is turned into an actual market in research services." There are myriad and disturbing effects that result from this, one of which is that scientific knowledge often becomes the "private property" of a research community or organization, so contracts will preclude scientists from immediately disclosing and thus sharing their results. In Ziman's words, "Secrecy in science is a form of 'epistemic pollution' to which post-academic science is all too open." Post-academic scientists may still have sufficient motivation to "tell the truth," but there are substantial and prevailing material interests that often preclude them from telling "the whole truth:" "They are often prevented, in the interests of their employers, clients, or patrons from revealing discoveries or expressing doubts that would put a very different complexion on their testimony. The meaning of what _is_ said is secretly undermined by what is _not_ said." Corporate and political interests have an increasing and troubling role in the very nature of scientific knowledge production, which accounts for a "proprietorial attitude to the results of research." The organization of post-academic science reflects dependency on market principles (Philip Mirowski is helpful here), and I wonder if many philosophers of science has sufficient appreciation of this fact. That contexts of application are largely defined by material interests outside of science proper cannot but help change the character of science in ways that should concern us and philosophers should be well-suited to address. * I have a list of titles that treat this topic here:
Grammatical corrections or comments should be sent to the author of the article.
Peter, thank you for that.
In the spirit of Jennifer's comment above, there is a very basic compilation of works in Indian philosophy here (I hope to update it before the end of the year*): * And thus I welcome suggestions for additional titles toward that end.
Jennifer, I do have Dreyfus's book in front of me, and yes the case is discussed there (pp. 292-93), with Dreyfus referring to Dharmottara's example as "quite similar to the cases used by Gettier in his attacks against the classical Western definition of knowledge as justified true belief." He writes that the example can thus "be appropriately described as Gettier-like in that it takes a putative definition of knowledge and brings a counterexample in which the criteria implied by the definition are met but we know that there is no knowledge[,]" the conclusion for Dharmottara being that we "need both criteria (practical value and normative truth) to define validity (leaving aside for the time being the issue of novelty)." And the more general lesson being that "a causal account of knowledge can be made complete only by at least tacitly appealing to a normative element determined in intentional terms. This is what Dharmakīrti intends to capture in his account of valid cognition." Should Dharmottara want to exclude Gettier-type cases, in other words, "he must hold that here truth does not just mean factuality, but something stronger, what we would call _normative truth_; that is, truth in accordance with the proper standards of evaluation."
Sylvia, The text was translated by Stephen H. Phillips and N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya and published in 2004 by the American Institute of Buddhist Studies (note that it is not a Buddhist but Nyāya text) in conjunction with Columbia University's Center for Buddhist Studies and Tibet House US. See:
The stipulative definition of "the spiritual" sans religion is not something I made up but comes from self-defined agnostics, atheists, and humanists themselves, from Kakar and Gillett (I linked to the relevant quotes from them), and to others, like the philosopher Owen Flanagan who, with his conception of "eudaimonics," elaborates a notion of "naturalized" spirituality. So, you are profoundly mistaken to state that this is somehow "disrespectful" of the beliefs of atheists and humanists, and you are equally wrong to think that the meaning of "the spiritual" necessarily depends on some sort of religious belief. And it is the worst kind of rhetorical hyperbole to invoke the concept of oppression in this context, unless we can make sense of the idea that atheists and humanists like Kakar, Gillett, and Flanagan are engaged in some form of self-oppression. In short, there is a notion of "the spiritual" that does not involve religion: that you are ignorant of same or do not understand its meaning in no way alters that fact.
erratum (first para.): "This does not simply coincide with...."
[erratum: Tolkien] What is the meaning of “constituent power” for Schmitt? This does simply coincide with nor fall under the heading of any kind of “traditional authoritarianism.” Is not the sovereign the bearer of this power? He may not have been “indifferent” to who or what exercised sovereignty, but his understanding of same, in the end, trumps the “traditionalist authoritarianism based on a plurality of social orders.” This in fact helps us see the possible links between his conception of politics, law, and constitutional order and his support the Nazi variation on the fascist theme. It’s his understanding of constituent power that allows it to triumph over law, for the liberal rule of law was plagued, in Schmitt’s view, by its naïve or untenable conception of political authority. Hence what counts for “traditional authoritarianism” here is decidedly not a “plurality of social orders,” for with the victory of National Socialist ideology “comes a [nostalgic if not frightening] vision of the substantive homogeneity of the Volk” fused to the constituent power of “we the people.”* David Dyzenhaus explains: “The Leader’s authority [after 1933] is not in any way constituted by law. It comes from the people, not through consent but by their acclamation of the Leader’s articulation of the friend/enemy distinction which establishes the substantive homogeneity of the people. Consent cannot, on Schmitt’s view, play a constituent role….” Whatever the descriptive or analytical virtues of his understanding of the legal order in Liberalism, we should not disguise or ignore the fact that Schmitt’s “leading role in the association of Nazi jurists” in 1933 bears more than an elective affinity with writings in which he “regarded the destruction of liberalism and the institutions of liberal democracy as necessary in order to restore the substantive homogeneity of “the people,” the Volk. Nothing you’ve said here enables us to appreciate how or why Schmitt came to identify “liberal ideology with the alien ideology of a parasitical group, the Jews, whose presence in Germany stood in the way of the achievement of homogeneity [so much for a ‘plurality of social orders’], which is why he hailed the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which stripped Jews of their political citizenship….” Moreover, he identified normative theories of the rule of law with Jewish thinkers (from Spinoza to Kelsen) as emblematic of an “alien mode of thought.” “Opportunism” hardly does justice to the theory or praxis of Schmitt’s politics which, however complex, ambiguous (or unsystematic), or obscure, amounts to an unabashed apologia for fascism (not for nothing was the Nazi era ‘the most productive period of his long intellectual life’). It is the acclaim of “the people” for The Leader, Der Führer, that legitimates the sovereign’s law-making capacity. The normative authority of the law “derives directly from the success of the Leader.” I fail to see how this does not amount to decisionism pure and simple. * In the words of Dyzenhaus, “Even if Schmitt himself might have preferred the victory of the more conservative elements of the Catholic resistance to Weimar, the Leader had met all the marks for political success he had outlined in his work in late Weimar.”
"Do western philosophers eschew non-western philosophical views because they think they are inferior, lacking in rigor? Or is it mainly a matter of ignorance?" I'd say both reasons are applicable, separately and in combination (e.g., the belief in inferiority or lack of rigor is one forged in deep ignorance). And there's more than a little irony involved in the case of Indian philosophy, as the late Michael Dummett made clear in a talk he gave in 1992 at the commemoration held on the first anniversary of the death of Professor B.K. Matilal at All Souls College, Oxford. Dummett rightly points out that "the Indian religions, at any rate--Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism--are, in their essence as religions closer to philosophy than the Western religions, which I take to be Judaism, and its successors, Christianity and Islam. If you look at the Old Testament [TANAKH, or the Hebrew Bible], the New Testament, and the Koran, you will find in them very little, if anything[!], that could be called philosophical writing or in any philosophical style,...whereas in the Indian scriptures there is much that is of a philosophical character or touches very directly upon a philosophical style of thought." Matilal of course was a trailblazer when it came to the employment of "analytic" skills to Indic philosophy of religion, needing to overcome in the endeavor, as Heeraman Tiwari says, not only the ignorance of Western philosophers, but the "prejudice of Western Indologists and Orientalists." The quote from Dummett is found in Tiwari's introduction to Bimal Krishna Matilal's Logical and Ethical Issues: An Essay on Indian Philosophy of Religion (New Delhi: Chronicle Books, 2004; first published under a slightly different title in 1982 by the University of Calcutta).
After I completed an early draft of my Islamic Studies bibliography some years ago I circulated it online to scholars whose work I was familiar with and thought highly of in the field. One of those on the receiving end, Oliver Leaman (University of Kentucky, Philosophy: Professor of Philosophy and Zantker Professor of Judaic Studies), subsequently asked me to participate in a couple writing projects (and passed on my name to others!). At the time (and still today), I was a very part-time academic at a community college (who didn't start teaching until my late 40s), with no real substantive publication record (I had done some work for ABC-CLIO, but it was rather obscure and only available on disc). I can't convey the depth of my surprise and gratitude for his invitation. Another individual, Professor Ian Richard Netton (Sharjah Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Exeter) asked to use my compilation for his encyclopedia on Islam. This does not quite conform to the model of academic correspondence Samir is recommending, but it nonetheless speaks to the individual "encouragement," the congenial "atmosphere," and conduciveness "to scholarship and...further striving toward excellence" he correctly mentions as a likely consequence of unsolicited if not uncommon academic correspondence not constrained by the contours of critique.
"There is still a political, intellectual, and cultural task of acknowledging a Europe of Islam and Orthodox Christianity, Muscovy-Russia and Istanbul-Turkey." Hear, Hear! Thank you.
Cf.: and
Toggle Commented Aug 15, 2014 on United Nations' Impartiality at Legal Ethics Forum
Kenny, religious language is a central focus of Smart's Reasons and Faiths cited in my list above (a book far ahead of its time in the field) and prominent "Wittgenstein approaches" (including 'neo-Wittgensteinian philosophers) are thoroughly covered in the book listed by Kellenberger.
Perhaps, after the late Ninian Smart, we should not practice “philosophy of religion(s)” so much as “philosophy of worldviews,” in other words, worldview analysis and evaluation. See for instance, Ninian’s essay, “The Philosophy of Worldviews—that is, the Philosophy of Religion Transformed,” Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie, Vol. 23 (1981): 212-224, reprinted in Ninian Smart (Donald Wiebe, ed.), Concept and Empathy: Essays in the Study of Religion (New York: New York University Press, 1986): 72-85.
In whole or in part, each of the following books contain much that is invaluable for philosophy of religion outside of Christianity. Should you want to, by way of introductory background material, you are free to use my guides for Confucianism and Daoism (‘rational reconstruction of some key terms’), or my study guide for Islam, which has some terms relevant for philosophy of religion in Islam (all available at my page). • Angle, Stephen C. Sagehood: The Contemporary Significance of Neo-Confucian Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. • Cottingham, John. The Spiritual Dimension: Religion Philosophy and Human Value. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005. • Coutinho, Steve. An Introduction to Daoist Philosophies. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. • Dasti, Matthew R. and Edwin F. Bryant, eds. Free Will, Agency, and Selfhood in Indian Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. • Kupperman, Joel J. Learning from Asian Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. • Leaman, Oliver. Islamic Philosophy: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2nd ed., 2009. • Ram-Prasad, Chakravarthi. Advaita Epistemology and Metaphysics: An Outline of Indian Non-Realism. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002. • Sharma, Arvind. The Philosophy of Religion: A Buddhist Perspective. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995. • Siderits, Mark, Evan Thompson, and Dan Zahavi, eds. Self, No Self? Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological and Indian Traditions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. • Smart, Ninian. Reasons and Faiths: An Investigation of Religious Discourse, Christian and Non-Christian. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1958. • Smart, Ninian. The Philosophy of Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Although it assumes a largely theistic perspective, there’s much to be learned about religious experience and knowledge outside of theism as well from James Kellenberger’s The Cognitivity of Religion: Three Perspectives. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985.
Hearty congratulations to George!
It contains a depiction of the "third eye," which is not in any way of Judaic or Christian provenance! A monument to "the Golden Rule" would be on (figuratively) firmer ground, it being found in both religious and non-religious worldviews and arguably a basic principle of social morality. To be sure, the different formulations: "negative" and "positive," for example, arguably have different implications, and the Golden Rule in the Gospels of the New Testament is found alongside others injunctions, about love, for instance, which some claim makes it stand apart from other versions. Still, I think Hobbes ably demonstrated how the Golden Rule is a basic principle of generic moral reasoning, which may, in turn, help account for its appearance in disparate cultural traditions.