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1. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Dylan S. Bailey Midwifery and Epistemic Virtue in the Theaetetus
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The Theaetetus’s midwife metaphor contains a puzzling feature, often re­ferred to as the “midwife paradox”: the physical midwives must have first given birth to their own children in order to have the necessary experience to practice their art. Socrates, however, seems to disavow having any children of his own and thus appears to be unqualified to practice philosophical midwifery. In this paper, I aim to dissolve the midwife paradox by arguing that it rests on problematic assumptions, namely, that Socrates never gave birth to a child at all or the child of wisdom in particular, and that he is primarily an intellectual midwife. I offer a new interpretation of Socratic midwifery, arguing that what Socrates may have birthed in the past which qualifies him for midwifery is his virtuous recognition of his ignorance, and that this “epistemic virtue” is also the proximate goal of Socratic midwifery.
2. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Ryan M. Brown The Lovers’ Formation in Plato’s Phaedrus
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This essay argues that the Phaedrus’s Palinode articulates an account of love (erōs) in which the experience of love can morally and intellectually transform both lover and beloved. After situating this account of love within the dialogue’s thematization of soul-leading (psuchagōgia), I show how Socrates’s account of love makes an intervention into typical Greek thought on pederasty and argue against Jessica Moss’s contention that soul-leading love suffers severe limitations in its soul-leading capacity, showing that Moss is wrong to think that love can only efficaciously lead souls that are already well-formed. By contrast, the Palinode portrays the moral and intellectual formation of the lover, who first approaches the beloved in the spirit of rapacity only to be turned by his experience of beauty toward genuine service, ordered to the beloved’s benefit. The beloved likewise undergoes such a transformation as a result of his nascent return-love (anterōs).
3. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Andreea Mihali Descartes’s Ethics: Generosity in the Flesh
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This paper focuses on the emotional make-up of Descartes’s generous person. Described as having complete control over the passions, the generous person is not passion-free; she feels compassion for those in need but unable to bear their misfortunes with fortitude, hates vice, takes satisfaction in her own virtue, etc. To bring to light the coherence of the generous person’s emotional configuration, a compare and contrast analysis with Descartes’s deficient moral type, the abject person, is provided. Real life as well as literary examples (Queen Christina of Sweden, Descartes himself and Kadhy Demba, one of the main characters of Marie NDiaye’s novel Trois Femmes Puissantes) further refine the portrait of Descartes’s generous person and show that generosity is achievable by anyone who uses their will well. Descartes’s position on harmonizing the passions is reconstructed as a developmental trajectory: harmonizing the emotions is possible courtesy of God who put this sphere of created affairs under our jurisdiction; harmonizing the passions is required since the alternative is sub-optimal (souls enslaved and miserable); finally, harmonizing the emotions is satisfying. Since, as the above examples demonstrate, in the process of making their emotional composition coherent, different people take different routes and thus “create for themselves a personal, quite personal ideal,” acquiring Cartesian generosity points the way to Nietzsche’s later notion of self-creation.
4. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Terrence Thomson Kant’s Opus postumum and Schelling’s Naturphilosophie: The Very Idea
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This paper is about Kant’s late unfinished manuscript, Opus postumum (1796–1803) and some of the resonances it has with Schelling’s early Naturphiloso­phie (1797–1800). Most of the secondary literature on Opus postumum investigates its relation to the rest of Kant’s corpus, often framing the drafts as an attempt to fill a so-called “gap” in the Critical philosophy whilst ignoring the relationship it has to the wider landscape of late eighteenth century German philosophy. Whether Opus postumum may provide grounds for reviewing the relationship between Kant and Schelling’s Naturphilosophie, for example, is rarely discussed. Some scholars have remarked upon the striking parallels between Opus postumum and Naturphilosophie, but there has yet to appear a single monograph-length text on the relation. Whilst certainly “Schelling’s Post-Kantian confrontation with nature itself begins with the overthrow of the Copernican revolution” (Grant 2008, 6), what if Kant was himself overthrowing the Copernican revolution? In this paper, I will outline some of the points of contact to start from in support of posing this question.
5. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Deborah Casewell Rewriting Mythology: Tautegory, Ontology, and the Novel
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In Schelling’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Art, he outlines an aesthetic theory of the novel and how it communicates truth, based around his Identitätssystem. In doing so, he understands truth as symbolic, where the symbolic is tautegorical. In his later lectures on mythology he instantiates a new understanding of ontology and mythology as tautegorical, and makes gestures towards how to understand aesthetic forms based on these new accounts. This paper explores how that new aesthetic understanding of truth, ontology, and aesthetics can be used to create a new Schellingian theory of the novel. To explore this, the paper looks at the worldview presented in Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus, arguing that it could be seen as the late Schellingian novel and as such, present a new paradigm for understanding truth as communicated through literature.
6. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Richard McDonough A Hegelian Dialectical Model of the Relation between Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations
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There has been considerable disagreement about the relationship between Wittgenstein’s Tractatus (TLP) and his Philosophical Investigations (PI) with some scholars arguing that there is considerable continuity between them and some arguing that they are completely opposed. The paper argues that this breadth of disagreement is not surprising because the relation between TLP and PI is analogous with that described in Hegel’s dialectical model of philosophical truth in the Phenomenology of Spirit. One might say that TLP is “refuted” by PI but there is also a sense in which PI is “the truth” of TLP. TLP and PI are both essential stages in “the progressive unfolding of truth” bound together like the successive stages in a single living organism where the view of the former is both “annulled” and “preserved at a higher level” in the view of the latter (Aufhebung). The paper thereby helps to facilitate Rorty’s attempt to usher “analytical philosophy” from its Kantian to its Hegelian stage.
7. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 27 > Issue: 1
Antonio Vargas A Polytheistic Phenomenology from Brazil: Vicente Ferreira da Silva’s “Mythology and the Tropic Experience of Being”
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Two formative forces for Greek philosophers remain undertheorized: polytheism as a metaphysical position and myth as a source of intelligibility. Heidegger’s work is perhaps exemplary in this regard: he both runs together Greek Metaphysics and Monotheism as well as fell prey to the power of myths. In this paper I introduce and translate the 1953 essay “Mythology and the Tropic Experience of Being” by the Brazilian philosopher Vicente Ferreira da Silva, where he proposed an openly polytheistic Heideggerian metaphysics and philosophy of mythology. Vicente Ferreira da Silva thereby developed a phenomenological approach to myth that can dialogue fruitfully with ancient philosophy in its fullness and also reflect critically about contemporary myths.
8. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Scott Aikin, Lucy Alsip Vollbrecht On Diogenes and Olympic Victors: Cynic Rhetoric and the Problem of Audience
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Diogenes’s exchange with Cicermos the Olympic pankratist is unusual in that it is both a dialectical exchange and is successful in changing Cicermos’s mind. Most Cynic rhetoric is physical or gestural and more often alienates than convinces. The puzzling difference is explained by the rhetorical choices Diogenes makes with his uniquely receptive audience.
9. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Anna Cremaldi Aristotle on Benefaction and Self-Love
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Aristotle claims that the virtuous motive in benefitting others is altruistic. But he also claims in Nicomachean Ethics 9.7 that benefaction is an expression of self-love. This essay examines the account of benefaction with an eye to resolving the tension between these claims. By drawing out Aristotle’s comparison between reproduction and benefaction, I show that Aristotle conceives of self-love principally in terms of activities whose causal effects redound not only to the beneficiary but also to the benefactor. With this understanding of self-love, we better understand the relationship between self-love and benefaction and between self-love and friendship.
10. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Andrew Burnside Inexhaustibility: St. John of the Cross and Barthes’s Author Function
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St. John of the Cross was aware of the fact that his mysticism resisted prosaic, discursive representation; however, most contemporary scholars have overlooked this radical component of his work. First, I trace the major philosophical influences on John’s work: Medieval Neoplatonism and Scholasticism (especially Pseudo-Dionysius and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as Ibn Arabi and possibly Averroes). Second, by drawing on the Barthesian-Foucauldian concept of the author function, I demonstrate that the Mystical Doctor saw his poetry as free-standing, inexhaustible by even his own efforts to systematize key aspects of his poetry—an insurmountable task, which he had to be compelled to compile and publish by the nuns he guided in spiritual direction.
11. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Cecilia Sjöholm Figures of Snow: Preconceptual Dimensions of Descartes’s Meteorology
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In times of climate change and unpredictable variations in weather conditions, not least in the climate of the North, Descartes’s treatise on Meteorology, published with Discourse on Method in 1637, has gained new relevance. He presents us with the kind of transformations that a Northern climate in particular materializes: weather consisting of small particles changing in shape and movement, intertwining, interfering and reorganising. This article argues that the Cartesian “figures” of the essay can be seen as philosophical thought-images of a preconceptual dimension of experience that abstract language fails to seize. In this way, they point to a dimension in Descartes’s philosophy that has been little commented upon, a tool of aesthetic approximation that lies between the res extensa and the res cogitans, a philosophical methodology using images explicitly appreciated by Descartes. The article links the use of images to the epistemological concept of “figure”, used to describe phenomena of the atmosphere that may be described as rhythmic. Here the analysis takes recourse to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s analysis of figural extension.
12. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Naomi Fisher, Jeffrey J. Fisher Schelling and the Philebus: Limit and the Unlimited in Schelling’s Philosophy of Nature
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Schelling’s 1794 commentary on the Timaeus makes extensive use of Plato’s Philebus, particularly the principles of limit and unlimited. In this article, we demonstrate the resonances between Schelling’s 1794 treatment of the metaphysics of the Philebus and his 1798 philosophy of nature. Attention to these resonances demonstrates an underexplored but important debt to Plato in Schelling’s philosophy of nature. In particular, Schelling is indebted to Plato’s late metaphysics in his model of the iterative combination of two basic principles: a productive, positive principle, akin to Plato’s unlimited, and a limiting, negative principle, akin to Plato’s limit. In Schelling’s philosophy of nature, the iterative interaction of these principles both provides a common ground for and accounts for the differences between inorganic and organic nature.
13. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Daniela Vallega-Neu A Strange Proximity: On the Notion of Walten in Derrida and Heidegger
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This article juxtaposes Derrida’s last seminar, The Beast and the Sovereign (volume 2) with Heidegger’s The Event (from 1940/41) in order to question Derrida’s reading of the notion of Walten in Heidegger’s texts in relation to the themes of sov­ereignty and death. It draws out different senses of Walten depending on whether Heidegger thinks Greek φύσις or the other beginning and it points out the importance of constancy for the notion of Walten. In each case Walten shatters in relation to death or to the notions of the “beingless” and “expropriation” that Heidegger introduces at the beginning of the 40s. At the same time, there emerges a strange proximity between an originary differencing Heidegger thinks in relation to the notions of “the beingless” and “expropriation” on the one hand, and Derrida’s notion of différance on the other hand (an originary differencing that, in Derrida’s reading of Heidegger, institutes a “sovereignty of last instance”) as well as a strange proximity in the circular character of both Heidegger’s and Derrida’s writings that has to do with how death informs their writing.
14. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Giancarlo Tarantino What Are Hermeneutic Character Virtues and Vices? Four Ambiguous Tendencies in Gadamer’s Hermeneutic Retrieval of Phronēsis
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Gadamer’s retrieval of phronēsis lies at the heart of his philosophical hermeneutics. This paper argues that this retrieval requires a co-retrieval of what Aristotle referred to as character virtue, and that Gadamer’s work largely neglects this. In part one, I review Aristotle’s analysis of the relationship between phronēsis and character virtue. In part two, I show how Gadamer’s double insistence on the importance of phronēsis for his hermeneutics and on taking responsibility for concepts generates the requirement of a co-retrieval of character virtues and vices. Following this, I then survey four ambiguous tendencies in Gadamer’s work that seem to militate against such a retrieval. I conclude with some remarks for future work.
15. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
John V. James On the Several Senses of Forgetting in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics
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Following Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer states that the primordial way we experience the past is through forgetting rather than memory. This essay seeks to explore the various senses of forgetting as it appears in Gadamer’s thought with a particular emphasis on how forgetting and memory structure the unique temporality of the work of art. This exploration reveals that the interplay between forgetting and remembering is more complicated than mere opposition; this interplay is specifically revealed in Gadamer’s analyses of the epochal transition and the transmissive event of history. In both cases, forgetting is revealed not as a lack or lacuna, but as a dynamic generating structure that elevates the work of art from its original past—constituting the immemorial dimension of the work. This essay concludes by gesturing toward the repercussions of forgetting on subjectivity and a theory of time in Gadamer’s hermeneutics.
16. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 2
Bryan Lueck Being-With, Respect, and Adoration
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According to Stephen Darwall, being with others involves an implicit, second-personal respect for them. I argue that this is correct as far as it goes. Calling on Jean-Luc Nancy’s more ontological account of being-with, though, I also argue that Darwall’s account overlooks something morally very important: right at the heart of the being-with that gives us to ourselves as answerable to others on the basis of determinate, contractualist moral principles, we encounter an irreducible excess of sense that renders those principles questionable. Following Nancy, I characterize this exposure to excess as adoration and develop some of its moral implications.
17. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
D. M. Spitzer Images in Archaic Thinking
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Images permeate and propel archaic thinking in diverse ways. How do philosophic texts from the Greek archaic period (ca. eighth through early-fifth centu­ries BCE) conceive of images and what do images accomplish in archaic philosophies? In what ways can attention to images in philosophic texts open perspectives onto the relations of myth, poetry, and philosophy in the archaic Greek period? With these questions guiding the inquiry, this paper explores texts from various traditions jointly related within the archaic Aegean cultural matrix. Texts from what might be termed philosophy’s prehistory, such as the ancient Egyptian Leiden Hymns and Odysseia, pro­vide important context for understanding the continuity and development of images.
18. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Kalliopi Nikolopoulou Tragedy without Action?: Reading Sophocles after Loraux
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The essay focuses on a paradox in the modern reception of tragedy: modernity foregrounds the Sophoclean tragic hero, in particular, but undermines the significance of heroic agency as autonomous deliberation. This gesture could be traced back to Hölderlin’s reading of Antigone as “divine fool,” and culminates more recently in Loraux’s gendered theory of tragedy as the feminine mourning voice that opposes the masculine politics of rational deliberation and action. For Loraux, tragedy’s ethical thrust is to highlight the distorted temporality of the political logos, which gives us a false sense of infinity through power and action; in contrast, the tragic voice exposes that mortal beings’ only infinity is the infinity of suffering and mourning. First outlined in her essay on Antigone, this thesis is later expanded in a book on tragedy as dirge, focusing on Sophocles’s Electra. By rereading both Sophoclean plays as mirroring each other on the topics of mourning, action, and revenge, I submit that, not only is action indispensable for tragedy, but the heroines’ infinitization of mourning affirms their disregard for mortal time in pursuit of their own glory. Their “intransigence” in mourning—to use Bernard Knox’s term—is the feminine equivalent to the war glory pursued by their male counterparts, though Electra’s inactive revenge fantasies lessen her heroic stature. Contra modernity’s emphasis on time, history, and finitude, I insist that Sophoclean heroes/heroines contest and reject time and its limits.
19. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Marta Heckel Parmenides’s Love of Honor and Lessons about How (Not) to Do Philosophy from Plato’s Parmenides
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In this paper, I show that the Parmenides provides important insight into how to properly engage in philosophical discussion—or, more accurately, how not to engage in it. From references to age, love-of-winning and love-of-honor, and a paral­lel to the Phaedo, I show that Parmenides is ruled by the spirited part of his soul in a way that compromises his ability to philosophize, and that the Parmenides is a warning about doing philosophy from a love of honor. Ideally, we should do philosophy from a love of wisdom. When we are honor-loving, we are not only motivated by the wrong kind of thing, but our love of honor can also blind us to the specific ways in which we might be falling short of ideal philosophical engagement, such as missing the potential dangers of engaging in philosophy with certain kinds of interlocutors.
20. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 26 > Issue: 1
Andrew Haas One One, or the Unity of Being in Plato’s Parmenides
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Being can no longer be thought, for Plato, in accordance with Parmenides’ either/or; rather, it is both/and, both present in and absent from things, which is how they can come-to-presence and go-out-into-absence. But as the Parmenides demonstrates, Greek grammar hints at a fundamental ontological truth: the expression, “one one,” ἓν ἕν, shows that being can be implied, neither present nor absent—for being is an implication. But then participating must be rethought in terms of implying: being is implied in everything that is and is one, which is how it is present in beings and absent therefrom. But this understanding of participation—as Aristotle insists—is contradictory. Luckily, there is another way: implication qua belonging—being no longer participates-in, but belongs-to things, which is how it is one with them, distinct but inseparable. But this too, betrays implication, fails to grasp being’s way of being, and the meaning of being qua implied, and so cannot illuminate how being and beings are and are one—for as the suspension of presence and/or absence, implying is irreducible to participating or belonging. Rather, if being is implied, it is because implication is suspension, which is why it is so suspenseful.