October 18, 2014

Pfau places Coleridge at the center

Imagine that you’ve been invited to play a game of cards with Thomas Pfau and his cards are called Justice, Reason, Beauty, Humanism, Purpose, and Value, while yours are called Interest, Materialism, Naturalism, Historicism, Value-Neutrality, attributes of a World without Grace and without Narrative. Who wins? But why should you let Pfau have all those cards, especially with names like Justice, Reason, and Beauty, or the names he adds later—“free choice, conscience, person, teleology…judgment…and, for that matter, art”; and why are you stuck with Interest and Materialism? This is a ... more »

Thomas Pfau’s book *Minding the Modern* is a book of immense scope. About half the work (parts II and III) consists of an ambitious historical genealogy. The other half (the prolegomena and part IV) presents a sustained philosophical argument about human personhood and moral agency. Although Pfau places the work of Samuel Taylor Coleridge at the center of his examination of modernity, the conceptual protagonist of the book is Thomas Aquinas, whose theory of moral agency is seen to afford a robust account of human freedom that is grounded in *rational* volition: free decisions based ... more »

Inchoate thought emerging from ongoing discussions I’ve had with my friend Duane Rousselle over the last couple of years. It seems to me that anarchist/communist political thought– at least as I conceive it (I could be completely misguided as to what both anarchism and communism are) –pull in two distinct directions, one normative and the […]

All theory takes place within an ecology of debates, theoretical frameworks, and concepts to which it responds and engages; as well as the historical situation, social system, institutions, etc., in which it is articulated. Yet while theory is always embedded in a set of relations in which it emerges, theoretical machines are peculiar sorts of […]

One of the key debates in Indian philosophy is what counts as a pramāna: an instrument of knowledge, a “reliable warrant”, a means of knowledge reliable enough that one can be reasonably confident to take its conclusions as true. What →

Anand Vaidya on 3 October 2014 at 12:40 am said: Hi Elisa,
Thanks for the comments. I will look into the aspects of classical Indian philosophy that you mention. I am very appreciative of any direction on this issue. As for your general question, I have a small comment on that one.
It looks to me as if one could argue that St. Anselm had no interest in the epistemology of modality. Some would even argue that he simply used the term ‘inconceivable’ to mean ‘logically impossible’ and as a consequence was not interested in how the mental operation of conceiving might relate to what is objectively possible or impossible. However, with Descartes and with Hume and Kant I think it is much harder to make the claim that they did not see themselves as interested in the primary questions in the epistemology of modality. Descartes, Arnauld, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Berkeley, Reid, and Mill all discuss a conceivability to possibility thesis, its role in metaphysics, and whether or not it is reliable. Many even suggest deep points that make it the case that the 20th century debate, at least in my opinion, has not gone beyond what they say.

In the spirit of Darwinian evolution, Henri Bergson, with this volume, makes the philosophical argument that morality and religion are the “natural” and necessary products of man’s evolution. With a look which extends back some 2,400 years to the ancient Greek philosophers, Bergson traces the evolution of man’s instinct, intelligence and intuition and shows how necessary their interactions were in the development of human societies, morality and religion and he looks ahead to the shapes they must take if man is to survive himself.

Sri Aurobindo’s multifaceted engagements will continue to occupy scholars in different fields. As one who belongs to a country that has begotten eminent theoreticians in the fields of literature, arts, linguistics, and aesthetics, Sri Aurobindo’s contribution deserves a dispassionate assessment. Volume 27 of the Complete Works contains his “Letters on Poetry and Art” which can be examined for the potential for a theory of poetry. As letters, they are informal responses. However, they are also responses to specific and thoughtfully worded questions from individuals who have engaged Sri Aurobindo in serious discussions on the issues concerning poetry and the arts. An Indian academic is forged in a system of education that is more Western, in character, than Indian. Hence, the present concern to explore the potential for a theory of poetry among Indian scholars and theoreticians.