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1. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Colin C. Smith Toward a Two-Route Interpretation of Parmenidean Inquiry
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In this paper I challenge the orthodox view regarding the number of routes of inquiry in Parmenides’s poem. The narrating goddess in Fragment 2 identifies ‘the only routes of inquiry there are for knowing,’ (i) guided by the ‘[. . .] is [. . .]’ and (ii) guided by ‘what-is-not as such.’ In Fragment 6, the goddess considers taking (iii) ‘both to be and not to be’ to be ‘the same and not the same,’ and most modern commentators hold that this constitutes a third route. I argue instead that this interpretation entails missing the routes’ fundamental interconnections, and that the goddess describes only two. To show this, I consider Fragments 2 and 6 before turning to key notions in Doxa, particularly the constitutive ontological kinds ‘light’ and ‘night,’ to account for the second, mortal route. Mortals have missed the being of these two, and I develop an account of the inquiry that is guided by this insight.
2. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
John V. Garner Creative Discovery: Proclus and Plato on the Emergence of Scientific Precision
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In his commentary on Euclid, Proclus develops what he takes to be an important Platonic critique of the epistemology of abstraction. As I argue, his argument closely reflects terminology and concepts from Plato’s Philebus. Both emphasize the priority—in reality and in our awareness—of the precise over the imprecise. Specifically, Proclus’s famous notion of the psychical “projection” of intermediate mathematical entities, while having no technically exact precedent in Plato, finds a conceptual neighbor in the Philebus’s suggestion that philosophical arithmeticians “posit” pure units for counting. Likewise, for both our self-engagement in mathematical thinking (which has importance even for non-mathematical inquiries) serves to clarify the independence of the precise sciences—both in their content and in their practice—from perception. Thus, as I argue, Plato and Proclus, with their different terms and nuances, develop a shared conception scientific inquiry in which an activity of “creative discovery” plays a central role.
3. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Rebekah Johnston Aristotle on Wittiness: Verbally Abusing One’s Friends in the Right Way
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Aristotle claims, in his Nicomachean Ethics, that in addition to being, for example, just and courageous, and temperate, the virtuous person will also be witty. Very little sustained attention, however, has been devoted to explicating what Aristotle means when he claims that virtuous persons are witty or to justifying the plausibility of the claim that wittiness is a virtue. It becomes especially difficult to see why Aristotle thinks that being witty is a virtue once it becomes clear that Aristotle’s witty person engages in what he calls ‘educated insolence’. Insolence, for Aristotle, is a form of slighting which, as he explains in the Rhetoric, generally causes the person slighted to experience shame and anger. In this paper, I attempt to bring some clarity to Aristotle’s claim that being witty is a virtue by examining why Aristotle thinks that the object of a witty person’s raillery will find this joking pleasant.
4. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Sean Erwin Mixed Bodies, Agency and Narrative in Lucretius and Machiavelli
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Scholars have cited the influence of Lucretius on Machiavelli as important to framing Machiavelli’s position on the freedom of political agents. Some scholars like Roecklin (2012) and Rahe (2007, 2008) argue that Machiavelli was a determinist based on Machiavelli’s rejection of the clinamen; others argue with Brown (2010, 2013, 2015) and Morfino (2006, 2011) that Machiavelli’s affirmation of Lucretian natural principles left room for the freedom of agents. However, this paper takes a different approach by arguing that Machiavelli successfully resists identification with either of these positions. I argue here that Machiavelli affirms a notion of agency that reflects the influence of the Lucretian notion of mixed bodies where human actions emerge from an irreducible multiplicity of subjective and objective factors. I also argue that Machiavelli structures the narratives describing the actions of his agents in a way that supports interpreting their actions as both contingent and necessary.
5. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Thora Ilin Bayer The Two Views of Renaissance Philosophy
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In the study of the history of philosophy, there is a long-standing question as to whether works produced between the mid-fourteenth century and the end of the sixteenth century, the Renaissance, can be rightly understood as philosophy or as primarily literary and rhetorical in character. The latter view is prominently held by Paul Oskar Kristeller but has precedent in Hegel’s treatment of this period in his History of Philosophy. That the works of major figures of this period are essentially philosophical is a view held, in quite different ways, by Ernst Cassirer and Ernesto Grassi. This essay examines the origin and nature of these views and advances a general perspective through which they may be brought together.
6. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Razvan Ioan Descartes’s Turn to the Body
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What are Descartes’s views on the body and how do they change? In this article, I try to make clearer the nature of the shift towards an increased focus on the body as ‘my’ body in Descartes’s Passions of the Soul. The interest in the nature of passions, considered from the point of view of the ‘natural scientist’, is indicative of a new approach to the study of the human. Moving beyond the infamous mind-body union, grounded in his dualist metaphysics, Descartes begins developing a philosophical anthropology centred on the notion of power and better suited to practical philosophy.
7. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Dimitris Vardoulakis Why Is Spinoza an Epicurean?
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The article argues that Spinoza’s political philosophy is best understood by tracing the influence of epicureanism in his thought.
8. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Matthew J. Dennis Virtue as Empowerment: Spinozism in Nietzsche’s Ethics
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Virtue ethical interpretations of Nietzsche are increasingly viewed as a promising way to explain his moral philosophy, although current interpretations disagree on which character traits he regards as virtues. Of the first-, second-, and third-wave attempts addressing this question, only the latter can explain why Nietzsche denies that the same character traits are virtues for all individuals. Instead of positing the same set of character traits as Nietzschean virtues, third-wave theorists propose that Nietzsche only endorses criteria determining whether a specific character trait is a virtue or vice for a specific individual. The article examines the criteria-based approaches of third-wave theorists Lester Hunt and Christine Swanton, showing how they urgently need revising to explain Nietzsche’s endorsement of non-acquisitive character traits (such as those involving sensitivity and receptivity). To do this I explore Nietzsche’s unpublished remarks on Spinoza, which I contend better explains why he understands non-acquisitive character traits as virtues.
9. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Russell Winslow Enlightenment Infinitesimals and Tolstoy’s War and Peace
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During the Enlightenment period the concept of the infinitesimal was developed as a means to solve the mathematical problem of the incommensurability between human reason and the movements of physical beings. In this essay, the author analyzes the metaphysical prejudices subtending Enlightenment Humanism through the lens of the infinitesimal calculus. One of the consequences of this analysis is the perception of a two-fold possibility occasioned by the infinitesimal. On the one hand, it occasions an extreme form of humanism, “transhumanism,” which exhibits limitless confidence in the possibility of human science. On the other hand, the concept of the infinitesimal also contains within itself a source for a critical “posthumanism,” that is to say, a source which initiates the dissolution of the presuppositions of humanism while simultaneously announcing a different ontological organization. In , Tostoy’s novel takes up the problem of the relation between reason and motion and makes the two-fold possibility visible by presenting a contrast between its theoretical presentations and the lived experiences of the characters in the novel. Thus, is the setting in which the author has chosen to conduct this analysis.
10. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
William Konchak Gadamer’s “Practice” of Theoria
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This paper explores the Greek conception of theoria, Gadamer’s interpretation of it, and how he applies it to his own hermeneutics. In particular, the transition that Gadamer makes from traditional metaphysical perspectives of theoria in ancient thought towards the activity of theoria within human life is explored, and the role that his aesthetics plays in this process. The importance of the intertwining of theory and practice for Gadamer is considered and what the practice of theoria may consist in. It is suggested that Gadamer’s approach, which emphasizes heightened experiences of interconnection to promote self-transformation, is a productive transformation of theoria relevant to contemporary points of view.
11. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 2
Marc Crépon, D. J. S. Cross, Tyler M. Williams The Invention of Singularity in School
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This essay situates “singularity” at the heart of the power dynamics operative in contemporary pedagogy and the system supporting it. More than merely academic learning, indeed, “school” here denotes not only the range of disciplinary authorities at work within the classroom and the educational system at large but also discursive obedience to knowledge. Supported by close readings of Arendt and Derrida, this paper thus argues that nothing less than the formation of identity is at stake in “school.” What are the boundaries, limits, and conditions of possibility for a student’s invention of his or her own singularity within an institution and curriculum that, at the same time, demands obedience to authority? This paradoxical formation of identity within the constrictive demands of authority constitutes the primary task of thinking the “invention of singularity” at the heart of schooling in conjunction with democracy, language, vocation, and ideology.
12. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Santiago Ramos Plato and Kant on Beauty and Desire
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This article attempts to find common ground between Plato and Kant on the topic of beauty and aesthetic contemplation. The Kantian notion of “liking devoid of interest” is interpreted in such a way that it can be brought into harmony with two Platonic accounts of beauty found in the Symposium and the Hippias Major. I argue that both thinkers do justice to the relationship between desire and beauty, while also both asserting that the proper appreciation of beauty per se—whether in an object or as an essence—requires a disinterested stance.
13. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Christopher Turner Cynic Philosophical Humor as Exposure of Incongruity
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I examine several recent interpretations of Cynic philosophy. Next, I offer my own reading, which draws on Schopenhauer’s Incongruity Theory of Humor, Aristotle’s account of the emotions in the Rhetoric, and the work of Theodor Adorno. I argue that Cynic humor is the deliberate exposure of incongruities between what a thing or state of affairs is supposed to be (either by nature or according to tradition) and what it in fact is, as evidenced by its present manifestation to our sense-perception and thought. Finally, I interpret the significance of this new reading: the exposure of incongruity aims to elicit a response of righteous indignation at the failure of phenomena to live up to our reasonable expectations. Cynic humor redeems the value of ‘wrong life’ by rendering its wrongness palpable and thus intolerable, by availing itself of reason’s inability to withstand flagrant contradictions.
14. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
J. Colin McQuillan The Remarriage of Reason and Experience in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason
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This article argues that Immanuel Kant recreates in his critical philosophy one of the most distinctive features of Christian Wolff’s rationalism—the marriage of reason and experience (connubium rationis et experientiae). The article begins with an overview of Wolff’s connubium and then surveys the reasons some of his contemporaries opposed the marriage of reason and experience, paying special attention to the distinctions between phenomena and noumena, sensible and intellectual cognition, and empirical and pure cognition that Kant employs in his inaugural dissertation On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and the Intelligible World (1770). The final section of the article argues that, in the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787), Kant rejects the anticonnubialist positions he defended in his inaugural dissertation and introduces a new account of the relation between reason and experience that recreates Wolff’s connubium within the context of his critical philosophy.
15. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Khafiz Kerimov The Time of the Beautiful in Kant’s Critique of Judgment
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The present article considers the problem of the preservation of pleasure in Kant’s Critique of Judgment. The problem stems from the fact that the Critique of Judgment contains not one but two distinct definitions of pleasure. In the definition of pleasure in §10 of the Analytic of the Beautiful Kant emphasizes that all pleasure is characterized by the tendency to preserve itself. On the other hand, in the definition of §VII of the unpublished Introduction Kant makes a sharp distinction between interested and disinterested pleasures, whereby only the former kind is defined by the tendency for self-preservation. Yet, how can the disinterested pleasure of the beautiful preserve itself, given that insofar as it is disinterested it can be based on neither desire for its own preservation nor continued existence of the object? In addressing this issue, most commentators erroneously reintroduce desire (whether explicitly or surreptitiously) in the pleasure of aesthetic reflection. By contrast, I propose to resolve this issue by turning to Kant’s account of lingering in §12 of the Analytic of the Beautiful and, more importantly, §§43-53 of the Deduction, where Kant affords his conception of aesthetic ideas.
16. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Samuel A. Stoner Kant on the Philosopher’s Proper Activity: From Legislation to Admiration
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This essay investigates Kant’s understanding of the philosopher’s proper activity. It begins by examining Kant’s well-known claim in the Critique of Pure Reason that the philosopher is the legislator of human reason. Subsequently, it explicates Kant’s oft-overlooked description of the transcendental philosopher as an admirer of nature’s logical purposiveness, in the ‘First Introduction’ to the Critique of the Power of Judgment. These two accounts suggest very different ways of thinking about the philosopher’s character and concerns. For, while Kant’s philosopher-legislator pursues the practical, world-transformative task of furthering reason’s moral vocation, the transcendental philosopher’s admiration of nature’s purposiveness is a form of a contemplative openness to the contingent but wonderful orderliness of things. I conclude that Kant ultimately recognizes that the tension between legislation and admiration is characteristic of the philosopher and that it is the heart of philosophy’s vitality.
17. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Paolo Diego Bubbio Hegel: From the I to the Spirit
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The author argues that one of the “circles” that constitute Hegel’s philosophical system, as it is displayed in the Encyclopedia, is the circle between the I and the spirit (Geist). Specifically, the author focuses on the emergence of spirit as a self and an I (from self-feeling up to universal self-consciousness and the free mind), and on the encounter of the I with nature. The author also argues that absolute spirit maintains fundamental intersubjective and perspectival features that are proper to the I, and that grasping the circular movement between the I and the spirit in the context of Hegel’s discussion of absolute Geist is also relevant to appreciating how normative categories of social thought can be challenged and altered through Geist’s ability to achieve critical distance by overcoming subject/object distinctions.
18. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Ethan Stoneman Everyone Is at Liberty to Be a Fool: Schopenhaur’s Philosophical Critique of the Art of Persuasion
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Retrieved from unpublished manuscript remains, Arthur Schopenhauer’s Eristic Dialectics (1830–1831) has been largely ignored both by philosophers and rhetoricians. The work is highly enigmatic in that its intended meaning vacillates between playful irony and Machiavellian seriousness. Adopting an esoteric perspective, this article argues that the tract can be read as simultaneously operating on two levels: an exoteric, cynical one, according to which Schopenhauer accepts that people are going to argue irrespective of the truth and as a result provides tools for defeating one’s opponents, and a deeper, esoteric level, which functions not cynically but, in Peter Sloterdijk’s language, kynically, as a satirical unmasking of the cynical impulses animating the study and practice of argumentation, especially as evinced in the rhetorical-humanist tradition. Such an interpretation reveals that, while a minor work, Eristic Dialectics offers a sophisticated philosophical critique of “the art of persuasion.”
19. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Steven Burgess Nietzsche on Language and Logic
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Recent commentators on Nietzsche’s philosophy have paid careful attention to his reflections on truth. While this issue has generated significant dispute, one prominent school of thought is in tacit agreement about the view of language that underlies Nietzschean truth. This view holds that certain linguistic entities can capture precise, distinct units of propositional content and static, rigidly designated conceptual meanings. A closer look at Nietzsche’s various analyses of language and logic reveals not only that he does not subscribe to such a position, but that he offers a sustained critique against the possibility of any form of atomism of language. It was only in the 1880s, after Nietzsche overcame his dualistic commitments to Kant and Schopenhauer and embraced a philosophy of becoming, that the full power of his critique is made manifest.
20. Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy: Volume > 24 > Issue: 1
Tupac Cruz Remnant Volition: Walter Benjamin's Theory of Fortune
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This study of Walter Benjamin’s ‘theory of fortune,’ understood as a contribution to the ‘theory of events,’ focuses on a detailed reading of a notebook entry from 1932, published under the title ‘Practice.’ In that note Benjamin cites one ordinary example of a ‘fortunate event’: you lose an object, look for it, fail to find it, forget about it; later on, you look for a second object and find the first one. Benjamin describes this event, the finding of an object that you are no longer looking for, as an event that can be attributed to your hand. The concept of a “remnant volition” determines the singular sense in which, in this example, you still wanted to find the first object, although the volition to do so was not active when you were looking for the second object. A volition can be remnant, generally speaking, when it is disjoined from the agent’s anticipation of its fulfillment. Thus, a fortunate event is the fulfillment of a remnant volition by an agent’s body, and practice is a form of activity that makes this possible, for it allows an agent’s will to “abdicate in favor of the body.” In my reading of this notebook entry I contrast Benjamin’s account of practice to Aristotle’s; I argue (by way of Benveniste) for a reactivation of the concept of ‘lucre’; and I determine the relevance of this account to Benjamin’s (and our) understanding of Proust’s theory of ‘aesthetic commitment.’ I also consider some implications of this odd conceptual construction for the philosophy of action.