An exploration of human rationality from two ground-breaking thinkers.
Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge and wisdom. If reason is so useful, why didn't it also evolve in other animals? If reason is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense? In their ground-breaking account of the evolution and workings of reason, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber set out to solve this double enigma. Reason, they argue with a compelling mix of real-life and experimental evidence, is not geared to solitary use, to arriving at better beliefs and decisions on our own.
What reason does, rather, is help us justify our beliefs and actions to others, convince them through argumentation, and evaluate the justifications and arguments that others address to us.
In other words, reason has evolved to help humans better exploit their uniquely rich social environment. This illuminating interpretation of reason makes sense of strengths and weaknesses that have long puzzled philosophers and psychologists - why reason is biased in favour of what we already believe, why it may lead to terrible ideas and yet is indispensable to spreading good ones.
Ambitious, provocative, and entertaining, The Enigma of Reason will spark debate among psychologists and philosophers, and make many reasonable people rethink their own thinking.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people, desperate to escape war, violence and poverty, are crossing the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe. Our response, argues Zizek, offers two versions of ideological blackmail: either we open our doors as widely as possible; or we try to pull up the drawbridge. Both solutions states Zizek, are bad. They merely prolong the problem, rather than tackling it.
The refugee crisis also presents an opportunity, a unique chance for Europe to redefine itself: but, if we are to do so, we have to start raising unpleasant and difficult questions. We must also acknowledge that large migrations are our future. Only then can we commit to a carefully prepared process of change, one founded not on a community that sees the excluded as a threat, but one that takes as its basis the shared substance of our social being.
The only way, in other words, to get to the heart of one of the greatest issues confronting Europe today is to insist on the global solidarity of the exploited and oppressed. Maybe such solidarity is a utopia. But, warns Zizek, if we don't engage in it, then we are really lost. And we will deserve to be lost.
What do Socrates, Hypatia, Giordano Bruno, Thomas More, and Jan Patocka have in common? First, they were all faced one day with the most difficult of choices: stay faithful to your ideas and die or renounce them and stay alive. Second, they all chose to die. Their spectacular deaths have become not only an integral part of their biographies, but are also inseparable from their work. A "death for ideas" is a piece of philosophical work in its own right; Socrates may have never written a line, but his death is one of the greatest philosophical best-sellers of all time.
Dying for Ideas explores the limit-situation in which philosophers find themselves when the only means of persuasion they can use is their own dying bodies and the public spectacle of their death. The book tells the story of the philosopher's encounter with death as seen from several angles: the tradition of philosophy as an art of living; the body as the site of self-transcending; death as a classical philosophical topic; taming death and self-fashioning; finally, the philosophers' scapegoating and their live performance of a martyr's death, followed by apotheosis and disappearance into myth.
While rooted in the history of philosophy, Dying for Ideas is an exercise in breaking disciplinary boundaries. This is a book about Socrates and Heidegger, but also about Gandhi's "fasting unto death" and self-immolation; about Girard and Passolini, and self-fashioning and the art of the essay.
Truth has always been a thorny topic. How does it work? Who decides what it is? And why is it seen as so important? In this lucid introduction to the topic, leading scholar Simon Blackburn describes the main approaches to the notion of truth and considers how these relate to different perspectives on belief, interpretation, facts, knowledge and action. He then looks at how these ideas can be applied to: - aesthetics, taste and the judgement of art; - ethics and how people decide how they should (or should not) live; - reason and rational truth and whether these may be found or learnt in conversation, agreement and disagreement; - religious belief and the ultimate cause of the cosmos. Understanding what constitutes truth has practical value in every aspect of life, and whether you are voting in an election or finding an excuse for being late, Professor Blackburn's clear and incisive account will illuminate your choice, and stimulate, inform and entertain you along the way.
Pyrrho of Elis went with Alexander the Great to Central Asia and India during the Greek invasion and conquest of the Persian Empire in 334-324 BC. There he met with early Buddhist masters.
Greek Buddha shows how their Early Buddhism shaped the philosophy of Pyrrho, the famous founder of Pyrrhonian scepticism in ancient Greece. Christopher I. Beckwith traces the origins of a major tradition in Western philosophy to Gandhara, a country in Central Asia and northwestern India. He systematically examines the teachings and practices of Pyrrho and of Early Buddhism, including those preserved in testimonies by and about Pyrrho, in the report on Indian philosophy two decades later by the Seleucid ambassador Megasthenes, in the first-person edicts by the Indian king Devanampriya Priyadarsi referring to a popular variety of the Dharma in the early third century BC, and in Taoist echoes of Gautama's Dharma in Warring States China.
Beckwith demonstrates how the teachings of Pyrrho agree closely with those of the Buddha Sakyamuni, the Scythian Sage. In the process, he identifies eight distinct philosophical schools in ancient northwestern India and Central Asia, including Early Zoroastrianism, Early Brahmanism, and several forms of Early Buddhism. He then shows the influence that Pyrrho's brand of scepticism had on the evolution of Western thought, first in Antiquity, and later, during the Enlightenment, on the great philosopher and self-proclaimed Pyrrhonian, David Hume.
Greek Buddha demonstrates that through Pyrrho, Early Buddhist thought had a major impact on Western philosophy.
In a new paperback edition, this compelling and highly original book represents a confrontation between two of the most radical thinkers at work in France today: Alain Badiou and the author, Francois Laruelle. At face value, the two have much in common: both espouse a position of absolute immanence; both argue that philosophy is conditioned by science; and both command a pluralism of thought. Anti-Badiou relates the parallel stories of Badiou's Maoist 'ontology of the void' and Laruelle's own performative practice of 'non-philosophy' and explains why the two are in fact radically different. Badiou's entire project aims to re-educate philosophy through one science: mathematics. Laruelle carefully examines Badiou's Being and Event and shows how Badiou has created a new aristocracy that crowns his own philosophy as the master of an entire theoretical universe. In turn, Laruelle explains the contrast with his own non-philosophy as a true democracy of thought that breaks philosophy's continual enthrall with mathematics and instead opens up a myriad of 'non-standard' places where thinking can be found and practised.
This the first of a new three-part series in which Antonio Negri, a leading political thinker of our time, explores key ideas that have animated radical thought and examines some of the social and economic forces that are shaping our world today. In this first volume Negri shows how the thinking of Marx and Foucault were brought together to create an original theoretical synthesis - particularly in the context of Italy from May 68 onwards. At around that time, the structures of industry and production began to change radically, with the emergence of new producer-subjects and new fields of capitalist value creation. New concepts and theories were developed by Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari and others to help make sense of these and related developments - concepts such as biopower and biopolitics, subjectivation and subsumption, public and common, power and potentiality. These concepts and theories are examined by Negri within the broader context of the development of European philosophical discourse in the twentieth century. Marx and Foucault provides a unique account of the development of radical thought in the late 20th and early 21st centuries and will be a key text for anyone interested in radical politics today.
In this major new study, the philosopher and cultural theorist Fredric Jameson offers a new reading of Hegel's foundational text Phenomenology of Spirit. In contrast to those who see the Phenomenology as a closed system ending with Absolute Spirit, Jameson's reading presents an open work in which Hegel has not yet reconstituted himself in terms of a systematic philosophy (Hegelianism) and in which the moments of the dialectic and its levels have not yet been formalized. Hegel's text executes a dazzling variety of changes on conceptual relationships, in terms with are never allowed to freeze over and become reified in purely philosophical named concepts. The ending, on the aftermath of the French Revolution, is interpreted by Jameson, contra Fukuyama's end of history, as a provisional stalemate between the political and the social, which is here extrapolated to our own time.
This is Political Philosophy is an accessible and well-balanced introduction to the main issues in political philosophy written by an author team from the fields of both philosophy and politics. This text connects issues at the core of political philosophy with current, live debates in policy, politics, and law and addresses different ideals of political organization, such as democracy, liberty, equality, justice, and happiness. Written with great clarity, This is Political Philosophy is accessible and engaging to those who have little or no prior knowledge of political philosophy and is supported with supplemental pedagogical and instructor material on the This Is Philosophy series site.
In Mathematics of the Transcendental, Alain Badiou painstakingly works through the pertinent aspects of category theory, demonstrating their internal logic and veracity, their derivation and distinction from set theory, and the 'thinking of being'. In doing so he sets out the basic onto-logical requirements of his greater and transcendental logics as articulated in his magnum opus, Logics of Worlds. Now available in paperback, Mathematics of the Transcendental provides Badiou's readers with a much-needed complete elaboration of his understanding and use of category theory. The book is vital to understanding the mathematical and logical basis of his theory of appearing, as elaborated in Logics of Worlds and other works, and is essential reading for his many followers.
Beginning with a sustained critique of the so-called 'end of philosophy', Badiou goes on to propose a new definition of philosophy, one that is tested with respect to both its origin, in Plato, and its contemporary state. The essays that follow are ordered according to what Badiou sees as the four great conditions of philosophy: philosophy and poetry, philosophy and mathematics, philosophy and politics, and philosophy and love. Now available in paperback, Conditions provides an illuminating reworking of all the major theories in Being and Event. In so doing, Badiou not only develops the complexity of the concepts central to Being and Event but also adds new ones to his already formidable arsenal. The essays in Conditions reveal the extraordinary and systematic nature of Badiou's philosophical enterprise.
Both a unique witness of transformative events in the late 20th century, and a prescient analysis of our present economic crises from a major French philosopher, Michel Henry's From Communism to Capitalism adds an important economic dimension to his earlier social critique. It begins by tracing the collapse of communist regimes back to their failure to implement Marx's original insights into the irreplaceable value of the living individual. Henry goes on to apply this same criticism to the surviving capitalist economic systems, portending their eventual and inevitable collapse.
The influence of Michel Henry's radical revision of phenomenological thought is only now beginning to be felt in full force, and this edition is the first English translation of his major engagement with socio-economic questions. From Communism to Capitalism reinterprets politics and economics in light of the failure of socialism and the pervasiveness of global capitalism, and Henry subjects both to critique on the basis of his own philosophy of life. His notion of the individual is one that, as subjective affect, subtends both Marxist collectivism and liberalism simultaneously.
In addition to providing a crucial economic elaboration of Henry's influential social critiques, this work provides a context for understanding the 2008 financial shock and offers important insights into the political motivations behind the 'Arab spring'.
Principles of Non-Philosophy is a treatise on the method, axioms and objectives of non-philosophy and represents Francois Laruelle's mature philosophy. As well as presenting the method and principles of non-philosophy, it includes a history of the development of non-philosophy, a novel conception of science, a discussion of non-philosophical causality and new theories of the subject and object of thought. Providing an introduction to Laruelle's novel theory of 'non-epistemology' or 'unified theory of thought', this volumes challenges the way we think about the traditional philosophical problems. Now available in paperback, this edition brings together all the elements of Laruelle's thought developed over twenty years and laying the foundations for his later work; Principles of Non-Philosophy is arguably his magnum opus.
Jacques Ranciere's first major work, Althusser's Lesson appeared in 1974, just as the energies of May 68 were losing ground to the calls for a return to order. Ranciere's analysis of Althusserian Marxism unfolds against this background: what is the relationship between the return to order and the enthusiasm which greeted the publication of Althusser's Reply to John Lewis in 1973? How to explain the rehabilitation of a philosophy that had been declared 'dead and buried on the barricades of May 68'? What had changed? The answer to this question takes the form of a genealogy of Althusserianism that is, simultaneously, an account of the emergence of militant student movements in the '60s, of the arrival of Maoism in France, and of how May 68 rearranged all the pieces anew. Encompassing the book's distinctive combination of theoretical analysis and historical description is a question that has guided Ranciere's thought ever since: how do theories of subversion become the rationale for order?
According to Xenophon, Socrates tried to persuade his associate Aristippus to moderate his excessive indulgence in wine, women, and food, arguing that only hard work can bring happiness. Aristippus wasn't convinced. Instead, he and his followers espoused the most radical form of hedonism in ancient Western philosophy. Before the rise of the better known but comparatively ascetic Epicureans, the Cyrenaics pursued a way of life in which moments of pleasure, particularly bodily pleasure, held the highest value.
In The Birth of Hedonism, Kurt Lampe provides the most comprehensive account in any language of Cyrenaic ideas and behavior, revolutionizing the understanding of this neglected but important school of philosophy. The Birth of Hedonism thoroughly and sympathetically reconstructs the doctrines and practices of the Cyrenaics, who were active between the fourth and third centuries BCE. The book examines not only Aristippus and the mainstream Cyrenaics, but also Hegesias, Anniceris, and Theodorus.
Contrary to recent scholarship, the book shows that the Cyrenaics, despite giving primary value to discrete pleasurable experiences, accepted the dominant Greek philosophical belief that life-long happiness and the virtues that sustain it are the principal concerns of ethics. The book also offers the first in-depth effort to understand Theodorus's atheism and Hegesias's pessimism, both of which are extremely unusual in ancient Greek philosophy and which raise the interesting question of hedonism's relationship to pessimism and atheism.
Finally, the book explores the new Cyrenaicism of the nineteenth-century writer and classicist Walter Pater, who drew out the enduring philosophical interest of Cyrenaic hedonism more than any other modern thinker.
In this collection of two brief but highly influential works, Epictetus' Stoic philosophy addresses the nature of fate and man's place in the universe. The philosopher also explores the distinction between what is and is not within our power, the meaning of good and evil, how we should live, the importance of self-knowledge, and many other issues.
Dignity is humanity s most prized possession. We experience the loss of dignity as a terrible humiliation: when we lose our dignity we feel deprived of something without which life no longer seems worth living. But what exactly is this trait that we value so highly?
In this important new book, distinguished philosopher Peter Bieri looks afresh at the notion of human dignity. In contrast to most traditional views, he argues that dignity is not an innate quality of human beings or a right that we possess by virtue of being human. Rather, dignity is a certain way to lead one s life. It is a pattern of thought, experience and action in other words, a way of living.
In Bieri s account, there are three key dimensions to dignity as a way of living. The first is the way I am treated by others: they can treat me in a way that leaves my dignity intact or they can destroy my dignity. The second dimension concerns the way that I treat other people: do I treat them in a way that allows me to live a dignified life? The third dimension concerns the view that I have of myself: which ways of seeing and treating myself allow me to maintain a sense of dignity? In the actual flow of day-to-day life these three dimensions of dignity are often interwoven, and this accounts in part for the complexity of the situations and experiences in which our dignity is at stake.
So, why did we invent dignity and what role does it play in our lives? As thinking and acting beings, our lives are fragile and constantly under threat. A dignified way of living, argues Bieri, is humanity s way of coping with this threat. In our constantly endangered lives, it is important to stand our ground with confidence. Thus a dignified way of living is not any way of living: it is a particular way of responding to the existential experience of being under threat. It is also a particular way of answering the question: What kind of life do we wish to live?
This beautifully written reflection on our most cherished human value will be of interest to a wide readership.
There is a growing recognition that philosophy isn't unique to the West, that it didn't begin only with the classical Greeks, and that Greek philosophy was influenced by Near Eastern traditions. Yet even today there is a widespread assumption that what came before the Greeks was before philosophy.
In Philosophy before the Greeks, Marc Van De Mieroop, an acclaimed historian of the ancient Near East, presents a groundbreaking argument that, for three millennia before the Greeks, one Near Eastern people had a rich and sophisticated tradition of philosophy fully worthy of the name. In the first century BC, the Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily praised the Babylonians for their devotion to philosophy. Showing the justice of Diodorus's comment, this is the first book to argue that there were Babylonian philosophers and that they studied knowledge systematically using a coherent system of logic rooted in the practices of cuneiform script.
Van De Mieroop uncovers Babylonian approaches to knowledge in three areas: the study of language, which in its analysis of the written word formed the basis of all logic; the art of divination, which interpreted communications between gods and humans; and the rules of law, which confirmed that royal justice was founded on truth.
The result is an innovative intellectual history of the ancient Near Eastern world during the many centuries in which Babylonian philosophers inspired scholars throughout the region - until the first millennium BC, when the breakdown of this cosmopolitan system enabled others, including the Greeks, to develop alternative methods of philosophical reasoning.