Category: Philosophical Topics/Areas

Heinz von Foerster: Ethics and Second-Order Cybernetics. 1990

The following text is a keynote address Heinz von Foerster gave at the “International Conference on Systems and Family Therapy — Ethics, Epistemology, New Methods”, which took place in Paris in 1990. Introduction Ladies and Gentlemen: I am touched by the generosity of the organizers of this conference, who not only invited me to come to your glorious city of Paris, but also gave me the honor of opening the plenary sessions with my presentation.[1] And I am impressed by the ingenuity of our organizers, who suggested to me the title of my presentation. They wanted me to address myself...

Leo Löwenthal: On Sociology of Literature. 1948

Source: [easyazon_link identifier=”0878554890″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Literature and Mass Culture. Communication in Society,[/easyazon_link] Volume 1. Leo Lowenthal, published by Transaction Books, 1984. Leo Löwenthal (1900-1993) was a sociologist associated with the Frankfurt School. He began his career by joining the Institute for Social Research in 1927 and became managing editor of its journal Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung. Soon thereafter he migrated to the United States where he held various positions, including research director for Voice of America, the Stanford Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavior Sciences, and finally settled in the department of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His...

Erich Fromm: Humanistic Ethics (1947)

If we do not abandon, as ethical relativism does, the search for objectively valid norms of conduct, what criteria for such norms can we find? The kind of criteria depends on the type of ethical system – the norms of which we study. By necessity, the criteria in authoritarian ethics are fundamentally different from those in humanistic ethics.

In authoritarian ethics an authority states what is good for man and lays down the laws and norms of conduct; in humanistic ethics man himself is both the norm giver and the subject of the norms, their formal source or regulative agency and their subject matter.

Hegelian Concepts

Source: Hegel for Beginners, by Llyod Spencer and Andrzej Krauze, Published by Icon Books. In 1808, Hegel still talked of constructing some sort of bridge between traditional logic set out in classical form by Aristotle and his own. Aristotlean logic had been the standard for 2,000 years. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) perfected a form of deductive argument called the syllogism. “Classical reasoning assumes the principle of logical identity: A = A or A is not non-A”. Why did Hegel need a different logic? Perhaps you may already have seen the answer to this in Hegel’s Phenomenology. Hegel usually...

Hegel: Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. 1830.

Part One: Introduction §1 Philosophy misses an advantage enjoyed by the other sciences. It cannot like them rest the existence of its objects on the natural admissions of consciousness, nor can it assume that its method of cognition, either for starting or for continuing, is one already accepted. The objects of philosophy, it is true, are upon the whole the same as those of religion. In both the object is Truth, in that supreme sense in which God and God only is the Truth. Both in like manner go on to treat of the finite worlds of Nature and the...

Manifesto for an Independent Revolutionary Art. 1938.

Written in 1938, during André Breton’s trip to Mexico, where he visited Leon Trotsky. It is signed by André Breton and Diego Rivera. It is believed that the Manifesto was written by Trotsky and André Breton, although it was signed by Rivera and Breton. The trip to Mexico provided the opportunity for Breton to meet Leon Trotsky. Breton and his friends traveled via a long boat ride from Patzcuaro to the town of Erongaricuaro. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were among the visitors to the hidden community of intellectuals and artists. Together, Breton and Trotsky wrote the manifesto Pour un art...

Levinas: Ethics as First Philosophy (1984)

This essay was published for the first time in “Justifications de l’Ethique” (Bruxelles: Editions de l’Universite de Bruxelles), 1984, pp. 41 – 51. I am quoting here from the English translation in “[easyazon_link identifier=”0631164472″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]The Levinas Reader[/easyazon_link],” edited by Sean Hand, 1989, p. 76. Ethics as First Philosophy’ is a clear and powerful summary of Levinas’s methodical and yet radical move away from Husserl’s transcendental idealism and Heidegger’s hermeneutics towards the ethical question of the meaning of being, as we encounter it in the face-to-face relation. Beginning with the phenomenological legacy which reveals knowledge as built on an intentionality...

Philosophy Overview: Areas, Methods, Movements

Western Philosophy has an almost  3000-year history, with origins in ancient Greece and Rome, to its fully established form today. It is the intellectual discourse that accompanied Western civilization. At its core, philosophy is thinking, a process of reflection that operates on ideas, propositions, and their history. Philosophy as a discipline can be further divided by the particular questions it pursues. Its core disciplines are metaphysics ( what is Philosophy as a discipline can be further divided by the particular questions it pursues. Its core disciplines are metaphysics ( what is reality?) ethics (how should we act?) and epistemology (what...

Benjamin: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. 1936

This text was written in 1936. “Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours. But the amazing growth of our techniques, the adaptability and precision they have attained, the ideas and habits they are creating, make it a certainty that profound changes are impending in the ancient craft of the Beautiful. In all the arts there is a physical component which can no longer be considered or treated as it used to be, which cannot remain...

Michel Foucault: “What is Enlightenment?”

What is Enlightenment? This is a question that modern philosophy has not been capable of answering, but that it has never managed to get rid of, either. And one that has been repeated in various forms for two centuries now. From Hegel through Nietzsche or Max Weber to Horkheimer or Habermas, hardly any philosophy has failed to confront this same question, directly or indirectly. What, then, is this event that is called the Aufklärung?

Michel Foucault: Key Concepts

 This page offers brief definitions of some of the key concepts in Foucault’s work. It is adapted from Michel-Foucault.com, maintained by Claire O’Farrell. apparatus (dispositif) Foucault generally uses this term to indicate the various institutional, physical and administrative mechanisms and knowledge structures, which enhance and maintain the exercise of power within the social body. The original French term dispositif is rendered variously as ‘dispositif’, ‘apparatus’ and ‘deployment’ in English translations of Foucault’s work archaeology ‘Archaeology’ is the term Foucault used during the 1960s to describe his approach to writing history. Archaeology is about examining the discursive traces and orders left by the...

Michel Foucault

Foucault (1926 – 1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic. He theorized the relationship between power and knowledge, and examined the forms of social control through societal institutions. He is often considered to be a post-structuralist and postmodernist, but he preferred to think of his work as a critical history of modernity. Here is a biographical sketch from the Stanford Encyclopedia article, as well as a timeline of his life. Biographical Sketch “Foucault was born in Poitiers, France, on October 15, 1926. His student years seem to have been psychologically tormented but were intellectually brilliant. He...

Interfaith Declaration: Code of Ethics on International Business for Christians, Muslims, and Jews (1994)

The following description was written by Simon Webley, of the British-North American Research Association, who also worked on the text itself. INTRODUCTION A series of Interfaith consultations began in 1984 under the patronage of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and HRH Crown Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan. Followers of the three monotheistic faiths Christianity, Islam and Judaism took part, under the auspices of St. George’s House, Windsor and the Al Albait Foundation and the Arab Thought Forum in Amman. More recently Sir Evelyn de Rothschild has joined Their Royal Highnesses as a patron in this endeavor. A group of...

Friedrich Schelling: System of Transcendental Philosophy. 1800

About Schelling “Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775–1854) is, along with Fichte and Hegel, one of the three most influential thinkers in the tradition of ‘German Idealism’. Since he changed his conception of philosophy often, it is hard to attribute a  clear philosophical conception to him. Schelling was a rigorous logical thinker, but in the era during which he was writing, there was so much change in philosophy that a stable, fixed point of view was impossible. Schelling’s continuing importance today is based on three aspects of his work. Schelling’s Naturphilosophie. His empirical claims are largely indefensible, but his approach...

Heidegger: Brief über den Humanismus. 1947

[5] Wir bedenken das Wesen des Handelns noch lange nicht entschieden genug. Man kennt das Handeln nur als das Bewirken einer Wirkung. Deren Wirklichkeit wird geschätzt nach ihrem Nutzen. Aber das Wesen des Handelns ist das Vollbringen. Vollbringen heißt: etwas in die Fülle seines Wesens entfalten, in diese hervorgeleiten, producere. Vollbringbar ist deshalb eigentlich nur das, was schon ist. Was jedoch vor allem «ist», ist das Sein. Das Denken vollbringt den Bezug des Seins zum Wesen des Menschen. Es macht und bewirkt diesen Bezug nicht. Das Denken bringt ihn nur als das, was ihm selbst vom Sein übergeben ist, dem...

Hegel: Phänomenologie des Geistes. (1807)

Sektion 4, A und B. IV. Die Wahrheit der Gewißheit seiner selbst In den bisherigen Weisen der Gewißheit ist dem Bewußtsein das Wahre etwas anderes als es selbst. Der Begriff dieses Wahren verschwindet aber in der Erfahrung von ihm; wie der Gegenstand unmittelbar an sich war, das Seiende der sinnlichen Gewißheit, das konkrete Ding der Wahrnehmung, die Kraft des Verstandes, so erweist er sich vielmehr nicht in Wahrheit zu sein, sondern diesAn-sich ergibt sich als eine Weise, wie er nur für ein Anderes ist; der Begriff von ihm hebt sich an dem wirklichen Gegenstande auf, oder die erste unmittelbare Vorstellung in der Erfahrung,...

Hegel Quotes

The website Marxists.org has an extensively researched collection of Hegel texts. The following quotes from Hegel are linked to these texts, so you can read each quote in the context in which it was written, which is very helpful.   When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva, takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering. Preface to The Philosophy of Right (1821) The spirit of a nation is reflected in its history, its religion, and the degree of...

William James: The will to believe.

“The Will to Believe”  is a lecture William James gave to the Philosophical Clubs of Yale and Brown Universities. Published in the New World, June, 1896.  It defends, in certain cases, the adoption of a belief without prior evidence of its truth. James wants to defend the rationality of religious faith, even when sufficient evidence of religious truth is lacking. James argues that to some degree, the evidence for whether or not certain beliefs are true, depends upon first adopting those beliefs without evidence. James argues, for instance, that it can be rational to have unsupported faith in one’s own ability to...

Gottfried Leibniz: Monadology (1714).

1. The monad, of which we will speak here, is nothing else than a simple substance, which goes to make up compounds; by simple, we mean without parts. 2. There must be simple substances because there are compound substances; for the compound is nothing else than a collection or aggregatum of simple substances. 3. Now, where there are no constituent parts there is possible neither extension, nor form, nor divisibility. These monads are the true atoms of nature, and, in a word, the elements of things. 4. Their dissolution, therefore, is not to be feared and there is no way...

Descartes: Selections from Meditations. 1641

Descartes’ Life René Descartes (1596 – 1650) was born near Tours, in France, and was educated for nine years at a Jesuit college. After graduating with a law degree from Poitiers at the age of twenty-two, he traveled in Europe, and developed a passion for mathematics and philosophy. He spent most of his life after 1628 in Holland, and published in philosophy, physics, mathematics, and other sciences. In mathematics, he invented analytic geometry and the coordinate system that bears his name (“Cartesian”). He also prepared some significant works in physics, which he withdrew from publication upon discovering that his contemporary, Galileo,...