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Born This Day: Antonio Rosmini


Antonio Rosmini-Serbati was a part of the Italian Idealist movement and focused his work on repairing the damage done by the Enlightenment to religious belief -- an emphasis that was very popular in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. Rosmini can be seen as a part of the tradition of Kant (Hunnex) and a father of modern idealism. Rosmini held that philosophy is essential to sound thinking and to sound theology. The Enlightenment focused on "rationalizing" rather than on reason and thus bastardized philosophy which led to corruption.

  • He held that the idea of being as a singularity along with whatever can be understood from that idea is necessary to ground the intellect.
  • Rosmini thought the Greeks and Kant were excessive in their explanation of thought and Locke and Reid were deficient.
  • He believed that certainty in knowledge was possible through a rigorous pursuit of sounds argument (this forms a basis for his view of the dignity of humans and their "transcendence."
  • He spent a good deal of his energy pursuing a study of the dignity of the human person. The human is a hybrid of subject and object. The former is "that which feels" (soul) while the latter is "that which is felt" (body). This along with will is the essence of the human.
  • Wrote The Philosophy of Politics which expounds his views of the nature and purpose of society. Society is "simply the union of two or more people undertaken with the intention of obtaining a common advantage." (SEP)
  • He defended the belief in the existence of God but preferred a priori proofs over a posteriori ones.
  • Rosmini was an Italian priest, philosopher, and theologian.

Source: SEP

Today's Quote: "The human being is a knowing and feeling subject whose will, as supreme principle of activity, provides the basis of the incommunicable individuality that constitutes each real human nature as a person."

Born This Day: Edward Caird


Caird, a part of the idealist movement in Great Britain, was Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, professor of moral philosophy in the University of Glasgow and Master of Balliol College, Oxford.

  • Was known for his work on Kant in A Critical Account of the Philosophy of Kant (later editions published under the title The Critical Philosophy of Kant)
  • Gave the Gifford Lectures on the evolution of religion and the evolution of theology.
  • Held that the very conflict between idealism and materialism demanded a synthesis. He rejected that "common sense" could adjudicate these tensions in light of Humean skepticism.
  • In Caird's opinion, Kant provided a unifying synthesis: "The distinction between subject and object emerges within the unity of consciousness, a unity which is fundamental." (Copleston). This unity is present in science.
  • Caird viewed religion as being formed out of the awareness of this unity in conflict. He saw three stages in the development of religion
    • Stage 1: awareness of object (materialism)
    • Stage 2: awareness of subject (idealism)
    • Stage 3: awareness of the unification of both stages (religion)
  • Caird was the brother of John Caird, Presbyterian theologian and preacher and professor of divinity at the University of Glasgow

Quote of the day: On subject and object, “We are forced to seek the secret of their being in a higher principle, of whose unity they in their action and reaction are the manifestations, which they presuppose as their beginning and to which they point as their end.”

Announcement: Graduate Epistemology Conference

The Philosophy Departments of Northwestern and Notre Dame are proud to announce the program for the second annual Notre Dame-Northwestern Graduate Epistemology Conference, taking place on the campus of Notre Dame on Friday and Saturday April 14-15.  The Keynote speaker is Ernie Sosa, Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University.  There will be a special section of the conference devoted to the epistemology of disagreement, including a roundtable discussion on the topic.

New Plantinga Fellow Announced

Baylor University’s Bob Roberts as named as Notre Dame University’s Plantinga Fellow in the Center for Philosophy of Religion. Roberts received his Ph.D. from Yale and specializes in ethics (especially virtues), Kierkegaard, emotion theory, moral psychology, and epistemology. His books include:

Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology, Cambridge University Press (2003)

Intellectual Virtues: An Essay in Regulative Epistemology (Advances in Cognitive Models & Arch), with Jay Wood (Clarendon Press, 2007)

See here for more information

Lizzy Fricker to Visit Northwestern

The Northwestern Philosophy Department is delighted to announce the events that will take place during the two weeks (April 4-15) that Lizzie Fricker (Oxford) will be visiting Northwestern as Kreeger-Wolf Distinguished Visiting Professor.  In addition to giving several general philosophy talks talks Professor Fricker will be leading several discussions on her book manuscript on the epistemology of testimony.  The events are open to visitors; if you find yourself in the Chicagoland area and would like to attend, you are welcome to do so.  For those who would like more information, contact Sandford Goldberg at

Born Today: G.E.M. Anscombe


“The breadth of her work is impressive. She was systematic in her thinking, seeing and developing connections between metaphysics, moral psychology, and ethics that exhibited not simply a grasp of one particular problem, but a world view. Her legacy is one of the broadest and deepest left by a 20th century philosopher.” – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

  • Cambridge philosopher who occupied the Chair formerly held by Wittgenstein.
  • Married philosopher Peter Geach.
  • She was known as a fierce debater.
  • In 1956, publicly opposed the decision of Oxford University to award an honorary degree to Harry Truman for his decision to use of atomic weapons against Japan.
  • She opposed contraception.
  • Influenced by Wittgenstein particularly in her views on metaphysics
  • Most influential on her works on causation. She challenged Hume's view and established a trend towards probabilistic views of causality.
  • Her book Intention (on intentionality) is considered a classic of twentieth century philosophy.
  • Famously challenged Oxford don C.S. Lewis' argument in chapter 3 of his book Miracles at a meeting of the Socratic Club. Her challenge was so formidable, that Lewis allegedly became so upset by the argument that he rewrote chapter 3 for the paper version of his book to account for Anscombe's argument.

Today’s quote: “Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.” – General Turgidson (Dr. Strangelove)

Born Today: Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Mind as that for which any world is a world. (Hunnex)

  • Co-editor of Les temps modernes with Sartre.
  • He asserted in a lecture given at Geneva that the 20th century established the marginalization of dualism by viewing mind as always associated with the body but is expressed through being a subject. In this he both agrees and disagrees with Sartre.
  • He rejected a purely physical reduction of the mind and was concerned to establish the body as both physical and spiritual
  • His work bears a similarity to Ryle's position in The Concept of Mind and wanted to establish the body as the locus of subjectivity.
  • The subject is a physical being who is in "dialogue" with the world and therefore cannot be reduced to a machine.
  • Sartre is in the tradition of modern existentialism whereas MP is in the tradition of modern phenomenology.

Today’s quote: “Human life [is] through and through mental and corporeal, always based upon the body and always (even in its most carnal modes) interested in relationships between persons.”

Born Today: Joseph Priestly


Materialist who held to what Copleston calls an “associationist psychology” which emphasized the connection between physical psychical events. Priestly got into a debate with Richard Price over free will and the immateriality of the soul. He became a Unitarian and is most famous for his work in chemistry and physics as well as political philosophy.

Today’s quote: “Will is nothing more than a particular case of the general doctrine of association of ideas, and therefore a perfectly mechanical thing.”

The Character Project

The Character Project at Wake Forest University is very excited to launch its funding competition entitled “New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Character.” This $300,000 RFP is aimed at work in philosophy on the topic of character, and proposals can request between $40,000 and $100,000 for projects not to exceed one year in duration. We hope to make between 5-6 awards. A residential incentive of $6,000 for one semester or $12,000 for an academic year will be offered to philosophy RFP winners who are willing to move to Wake Forest University during the award period, and this stipend would not count as part of the research funding request. A willingness to move will not be taken into account when evaluating proposals.

Since work here will primarily be theoretical, the funding is aimed at semester or yearlong sabbatical research leave projects involving a book manuscript or series of substantive articles on character.

This competition is supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

For more details, please visit

The Sixth Cologne Summer School in Philosophy

“Relying on Others: New Perspectives in Social Epistemology”

The sessional will take place in Cologne, September 7-10, 2011. The special guest this year will be Sanford Goldberg (Northwestern University). The main focus is the intersection of epistemology, philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. We will discuss foundational issues (e.g., the relationship between epistemic and semantic externalism) as well as more specialized “hot” issues in social epistemology: the division of epistemic labour, testimony, group epistemology, disagreement, various ways in which others can be epistemically significant for us, and socially extended methods of belief-formation. The Summer School is mainly aimed at professional philosophers and advanced graduate students.

Attendance is free, but limited to 50 participants – on the basis of motivation and qualification. Online application is possible through April 30. Please add a short letter of application where you briefly explain your academic background and your main motivation for participating in the Summer School. Soon after the deadline we will inform you about the success of your application.

Please send your online application to the following email address:

For more information you may visit their website:

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