In What Philosophy Can Do, Gary Gutting leaves the ivory tower to tackle difficult questions in everyday life and shows how philosophy can be used as a method for interrogating our world-and one another. He looks at why today's political debates are so polarised, why scientific research on happiness does not make us happier and whether there are convincing reasons to believe-or not believe-in God. Gutting takes the most powerful-and divisive-forces in our society: politics, science, religion, art and capitalism-and applies a philosopher's scalpel to reveal thoughtful ways to look at vexing issues. He introduces readers to analytical tools, from inductive and deductive logic to the principle of charity, that they can apply to news events and policy debates. Gutting underlines philosophy's great promise for enriching public discussions about the most important issues in human life.
One of the most significant and enduring texts to have survived from Ancient Greece is Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, written by Plutarch in the first century AD. In the work, the man known as the 'Father of Biography' paired off the most notable and influential figures of the classical world, placing their lives and legacies next to each other, allowing the comparisons and juxtapositions to reveal new truths about famous men his readers already knew and revered. He compared Demosthenes with Cicero, Alexander the Great with Julius Caesar; the result was an intellectual masterpiece still referred to by historians today. In A Modern Plutarch, Robert Lloyd George applies this model of biography to many of the most recognizable figures, new and old, of American and British history. George compares select politicians, generals, scientists, and social and religious activists, drawing parallels between their lives and minds while revealing the traits that made them unique. Whether it's Churchill placed next to Lincoln, Darwin compared to James Watson, or any of George's other memorable pairings, A Modern Plutarch uses an ancient method of comparison to show us new features of many of the great thinkers in the Western world.
A brilliant introduction to the philosophical concept of materialism and its relevance to contemporary science and culture In this eye-opening, intellectually stimulating appreciation of a fascinating school of philosophy, Terry Eagleton makes a powerful argument that materialism is at the center of today's important scientific and cultural as well as philosophical debates. The author reveals entirely fresh ways of considering the values and beliefs of three very different materialists-Marx, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein-drawing striking comparisons between their philosophies while reflecting on a wide array of topics, from ideology and history to language, ethics, and the aesthetic. Cogently demonstrating how it is our bodies and corporeal activity that make thought and consciousness possible, Eagleton's book is a valuable exposition on philosophic thought that strikes to the heart of how we think about ourselves and live in the world.
In 1980, at the end of the most intensely political period of his work and life, Louis Althusser penned Philosophy for Non-philosophers. Available here for the first time in English, Philosophy for Non-philosophers constitutes a rigorous and engaged attempt to address a wide reading public unfamiliar with Althusser's project. As such, the work is a concentration of the most fundamental theses of Althusser's own ideas, and presents a synthesis of his sprawling and disparate philosophical and political writings. Nowhere else does Althusser push the distinction between philosophy and other disciplines as far, or develop in such detail the concept of 'practice'. Rather than a work of 'popular philosophy', Philosophy for Non-philosophers is a continuation and conglomeration of Althusser's thought; a thought whose radicality is still perceptible in those that have followed since. Philosophy for Non-philosophers thus provides a vivid encapsulation of Althusser's seminal influence on the leading thinkers of today, including Ranciere, Badiou, Balibar, and Zizek.
In this concise book, one of the world's leading epistemologists provides a sophisticated, revisionist introduction to the problem of knowledge in Western philosophy. Modern and contemporary accounts of epistemology tend to focus on limited questions of knowledge and skepticism, such as how we can know the external world, other minds, the past through memory, the future through induction, or the world's depth and structure through inference. This book steps back for a better view of the more general issues posed by the ancient Greek Pyrrhonists. Returning to and illuminating this older, broader epistemological tradition, Ernest Sosa develops an original account of the subject, giving it substance not with Cartesian theology but with science and common sense. Descartes is a part of this ancient tradition, but he goes beyond it by considering not just whether knowledge is possible at all but also how we can properly attain it. In Cartesian epistemology, Sosa finds a virtue-theoretic account, one that he extends beyond the Cartesian context. Once epistemology is viewed in this light, many of its problems can be solved or fall away. The result is an important reevaluation of epistemology that will be essential reading for students and teachers.
Logic: the Basics is an accessible introduction to several core areas of logic. The first part of the book features a self-contained introduction to the standard topics in classical logic, such as: * mathematical preliminaries * propositional logic * quantified logic (first monadic, then polyadic) * English and standard 'symbolic translations' * tableau procedures. The real value of the text is revealed by what else it contains: an accessible introduction to several philosophically important non-classical logics, to free logics, and to modal logics. This thoroughly revised second edition not only comprehensively covers the standard topics in logic at an introductory level but also gives the reader an idea of how they can take their knowledge further. With its wealth of exercises (many of which have solutions in the encyclopedic online supplement) Logic: the Basics will be useful as a textbook in courses ranging from the introductory level to the early graduate level and also as a reference for students and researchers in philosophical logic.
Evolution and Conversion explores the main tenets of Rene Girard's thought in a series of dialogues. Here, Girard reflects on the evolution of his thought and offers striking new insights on topics such as violence, religion, desire and literature. His long argument is a historical one in which the origin of culture and religion is reunited in the contemporary world by means of a reinterpretation of Christianity and an understanding of the intrinsically violent nature of human beings. He also offers provocative re-readings of Biblical and literary texts and responds to statements by Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins. Including an introduction by the authors, this is a revealing text by one of the most original thinkers of our time.
How many times do we hear the statement 'It's not for me to judge'? It conveys one of the most popular ideas of our time: that to make judgements of others is essentially wrong. In this classic text, the renowned moral philosopher Mary Midgely turns a spotlight on the ever popular stance in society that we should not make moral judgements on others. Guiding the reader through the diverse approaches to this complex subject, she interrogates our strong beliefs about such things as the value of freedom that underlie our scepticism about making moral judgements. She shows how the question of whether or not we can make these judgements must inevitably affect our attitudes not only to the law and its institutions but also to events that occur in our daily lives, and suggests that mistrust of moral judgements may be making life even harder for us than it would be otherwise. The texts and philosophers discussed range from Nietzsche and Sartre to P.D. James and the Bhagavad Gita. The Bloomsbury Revelations edition includes a new preface from the author.
One of the most influential Marxist theorists of the twentieth century, Henri Lefebvre first published <i>Marxist Thought and the City</i> in French in 1972, marking a pivotal point in his evolution as a thinker and an important precursor to his groundbreaking work of urban sociology, <i>The Production of Space. Marxist Thought and the City </i>inwhich he reviews the work of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels for commentary and analysis on the life and growth of the city now appears in English for the first time.</p>Rooted in orthodox Marxism s analyses of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, with extensive quotations from the works of Marx and Engels, this book describes the city s transition from life under feudalism to modern industrial capitalism. In doing so it highlights the various forces that sought to maintain power in the struggles between the medieval aristocracy and the urban guilds, amid the growth of banking and capital.</p>Providing vital background and supplementary material to Lefebvre s other books, including <i>The Urban Revolution</i> and <i>Right to the City, Marxist Thought and the City</i> is indispensable for students and scholars of urbanism, Marxism, social geography, early modern history, and the history of economic thought.</p>
On 13 November 2015, Paris suffered the second wave of brutal terrorist attacks in a year, leaving 130 dead and many more seriously injured. How are we to make sense of these violent acts and what do they tell us about the forces shaping our world today?
In this short book the influential philosopher Alain Badiou argues that while these violent events are commonly portrayed as acts of Islamic terrorism, in fact they attest to a much deeper malaise that is connected to the triumph of global capitalism and to new forms of imperialism that involve the weakening of states, such that whole regions of the world have been turned into ungovernable zones run by armed gangs in which ordinary people are forced to live the most precarious lives. These zones have become the breeding ground for a new kind of nihilism that seeks revenge for the domination of the West. And it is this new nihilism, on to which Islam has been grafted, that exerts a particular appeal to the young men and women on the margins who carried out the atrocities in Paris.
The tragedy of 13 November might appear at first sight to be rooted in immigration and Islam but our wound is not so recent: it is rooted in a deeper set of transformations that have reshaped our world, creating small islands of privilege amidst large masses of the destitute and depriving us of a politics that would offer a serious alternative to the present.
One can rightly say of Peter Sloterdijk that each of his essays and lectures is also an unwritten book. That is why the texts presented here, which sketch a philosophical physiognomy of Martin Heidegger, should also be characterized as a collected renunciation of exhaustiveness.
In order to situate Heidegger’s thought in the history of ideas and problems, Peter Sloterdijk approaches Heidegger’s work with questions such as: If Western philosophy emerged from the spirit of the polis, what are we to make of the philosophical suitability of a man who never made a secret of his stubborn attachment to rural life? Is there a provincial truth of which the cosmopolitan city knows nothing? Is there a truth in country roads and cabins that would be able to undermine the universities with their standardized languages and globally influential discourses? From where does this odd professor speak, when from his professorial chair in Freiburg he claims to inquire into what lies beyond the history of Western metaphysics?
Sloterdijk also considers several other crucial twentieth-century thinkers who provide some needed contrast for the philosophical physiognomy of Martin Heidegger. A consideration of Niklas Luhmann as a kind of contemporary version of the Devil’s Advocate, a provocative critical interpretation of Theodor Adorno’s philosophy that focuses on its theological underpinnings and which also includes reflections on the philosophical significance of hyperbole, and a short sketch of the pessimistic thought of Emil Cioran all round out and deepen Sloterdijk’s attempts to think with, against, and beyond Heidegger.
Finally, in essays such as "Domestication of Being" and the "Rules for the Human Park," which incited an international controversy around the time of its publication and has been translated afresh for this volume, Sloterdijk develops some of his most intriguing and important ideas on anthropogenesis, humanism, technology, and genetic engineering.
Why bother to praise mathematics when you claim, as Alain Badiou does, that philosophy is first and foremost a metaphysics of happiness, or else it s not worth an hour of trouble? What possible relationship can there be between mathematics and happiness? That is precisely the issue at stake in this dialogue, which serves as a very accessible introduction to what mathematics is and an exploration of the crucial influence it has always exerted on the greatest philosophers. Far from the thankless, pointless exercises they are often thought to be, mathematics and logic are indispensable guides to ridding ourselves of dominant opinions and making possible an access to truths, or to a human experience of the utmost value. That is why mathematics may well be the shortest path to the true life, which, when it exists, is characterized by an incomparable happiness.
In this third installment of his classic 'Foundations' trilogy, Michel Serres takes on the history of geometry and mathematics. Even more broadly, Geometry is the beginnings of things and also how these beginnings have shaped how we continue to think philosophically and critically. Serres rejects a traditional history of mathematics which unfolds in a linear manner, and argues for the need to delve into the past of maths and identify a series of ruptures which can help shed light on how this discipline has developed and how, in turn, the way we think has been shaped and formed. This meticulous and lyrical translation marks the first ever English translation of this key text in the history of ideas.
In line with the emerging field of philosophy of mathematical practice, this book pushes the philosophy of mathematics away from questions about the reality and truth of mathematical entities and statements and toward a focus on what mathematicians actually do--and how that evolves and changes over time. How do new mathematical entities come to be? What internal, natural, cognitive, and social constraints shape mathematical cultures? How do mathematical signs form and reform their meanings? How can we model the cognitive processes at play in mathematical evolution? And how does mathematics tie together ideas, reality, and applications?
Roi Wagner uniquely combines philosophical, historical, and cognitive studies to paint a fully rounded image of mathematics not as an absolute ideal but as a human endeavor that takes shape in specific social and institutional contexts. The book builds on ancient, medieval, and modern case studies to confront philosophical reconstructions and cutting-edge cognitive theories. It focuses on the contingent semiotic and interpretive dimensions of mathematical practice, rather than on mathematics' claim to universal or fundamental truths, in order to explore not only what mathematics is, but also what it could be. Along the way, Wagner challenges conventional views that mathematical signs represent fixed, ideal entities; that mathematical cognition is a rigid transfer of inferences between formal domains; and that mathematics' exceptional consensus is due to the subject's underlying reality.
The result is a revisionist account of mathematical philosophy that will interest mathematicians, philosophers, and historians of science alike.