Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Being Inclined: Félix Ravaisson's Philosophy of Habit

2020.06.22 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Mark Sinclair, Being Inclined: Félix Ravaisson's Philosophy of Habit, Oxford University Press, 2019, 229pp., $60.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198844587. Reviewed by Mathilde Tahar, Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès Mark Sinclair's book is one of the first commentaries in English on the philosophy of Ravaisson, an author little read today, who nevertheless influenced a whole generation of (especially French) philosophers. Sinclair sheds light on how the Ravaissonian concept of habit takes on a metaphysical rather than psychological meaning that has a great influence on French philosophy at the beginning of the twentieth century. He also shows to what extent habit plays the role of method in the philosophy of Ravaisson. Sinclair not only offers us an internal commentary on Ravaisson but also tries to see how his philosophical approach sheds light on contemporary issues. Sinclair wishes to highlight the metaphysical dimension of habit in Ravaisson's philosophy. Habit is characterized by... Read [More]

Sophie de Grouchy's Letters on Sympathy: A Critical Engagement with Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments

2020.06.20 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Sophie de Grouchy, Sophie de Grouchy's Letters on Sympathy: A Critical Engagement with Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Sandrine Bergès (tr., comm.), Eric Schliesser (comm.), Oxford University Press, 2019, 181pp., $29.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780190637095. Reviewed by Olivia Bailey, Tulane University Sophie de Grouchy, Marquise de Condorcet (1764-1822) was a philosopher and salonnière of the French Revolution, a character striking for her verve and courage as well as her erudition. Her life was marked by tremendous hardship. As an associate of the Girondins, she endured grave losses during the time of the Terror: her property was seized, she remained under constant threat of arrest, and her husband, the philosopher and mathematician Nicolas Condorcet, died in prison. Grouchy survived through her remarkable resourcefulness. To save herself from poverty, she composed a translation of Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS) so good that it remained the definitive French translation for two hundred years. As an appendix to her translation, she also published her... Read [More]

The Cinderella Strategy: How to Restart the Italian Economy by Building a Bridge Across the Messina Strait

The former Italian prime minister, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, evoking the Messina Strait by a magic spell in an image taken probably around  2002. As a modern version of Moses, Mr. Berlusconi didn't manage to do much more than creating a scale model. But the idea of building this monster (it would be the longest suspension bridge ever built), has been recurrent in this form for decades. It is a dream that refuses to come true, no matter how much politicians get their inspiration from Cinderella. The story of the Covid-19 epidemic never ceases to surprise me for one reason or another. Wrong models, superstar scientists, terrorized citizens, non-existing vaccines sold at high prices, the police fining people for taking a walk, snake oil in great abundance, and more. But this really hit me badly: would you believe what the Italian government is considering, now? Yes, in order to restart the economy after it was hit so badly by the lockdown, they are thinking of building a bridge over the Messina strait to connect Sicily to Italy. (really!). The longest suspension bridge ever built, assuming that it were possible to build it -- not obvious at all. It is a Cinderella-style dream that likely will never come true.Maybe it is true what some people said, that the Covid-19 can sometimes affect people's brains, but the real explanation is another one: the unbreakable grip of obsolete ideas on the way people think. In times of crisis, leaders simply tend to go back to the solutions to [More]

Plato’s Aesthetics

[Revised entry by Nickolas Pappas on June 22, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] If aesthetics is the philosophical inquiry into art and beauty (or "aesthetic value"), the striking feature of Plato's dialogues is that he devotes as much time as he does to both topics and yet treats them oppositely. Art, mostly as represented by poetry, is closer to a greatest danger than any other phenomenon Plato speaks of, while beauty is close to a greatest good. Can there be such a thing as "Plato's aesthetics" that contains both [More]

Merleau-Ponty between Philosophy and Symbolism: The Matrixed Ontology

2020.06.18 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Rajiv Kaushik, Merleau-Ponty between Philosophy and Symbolism: The Matrixed Ontology, SUNY Press, 2019, 171pp., $32.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781438476766. Reviewed by Laura McMahon, Eastern Michigan University Phenomenology, in Lisa Guenther's succinct definition, "begins with a description of lived experience and reflects on the structures that make this experience possible and meaningful." Guenther's definition is illuminating for a number of reasons. First, it highlights the fact that phenomenology as a philosophical methodology always begins with -- and is always ultimately beholden to -- familiar, concrete, and recognizable phenomena of experience as it is actually lived. Second, it draws our attention to the manner in which lived experience is by no means simply transparent to itself, but is rather reliant upon structures that may precisely withdraw from thematization within lived experience. For example, lived experience can only take the forms that it does thanks to the development and sedimentation of... Read [More]

I hope my question isn’t offensive and I ask it in good faith. I support all

Read another response about Justice, Ethics Justice Ethics Share I hope my question isn’t offensive and I ask it in good faith. I support all sorts of civil rights movements, but have disliked the idea “silence is complicity”. Isn’t silence a basic human right? It’s unlikely that any modern country’s law considers silence on some particular social issue as a crime or misdemeanor. I genuinely believe in racial equality, but wouldn’t the necessity of making this belief public make it seem like a show? There are many reasons one might choose to be silent, such as dislike of publicity or thinking that “enough people are already making this opinion heard so mine won’t make a difference”. Is it fair to judge some who knows but is silent about a societal ill as complicit in that [More]