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161. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Joe Frank Jones III Ethics and the Psychology of Inspiration: A Response to Ralph D. Ellis
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This essay summarizes Ralph D. Ellis’ view of contemporary psychological theory in order to isolate his contribution to our understanding of tragedy and its role in inspiring human beings. Then it shows that Ellis’ attempt to connect inspiration with ethics and/or moral development fails. It is the connection that fails. Ellis’ description of the human condition remains instructive.
162. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Charles W. Harvey Editor’s Introduction
163. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Ralph D. Ellis Responses and Reactions
164. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
Ralph D. Ellis Love, Religion, and the Psychology of Inspiration
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While much of contemporary psychology preserves the legacy of behaviorism and consummatory drive-reductionism, this paper by contrast grounds itself in an "enactivist" approach to emotion and motivation, and goes on to consider the implications of this view for the psychology of inspiration, especially as applied to love and religion. Emotions are not responses to stimuli, but expressions of an active system. The tendency of complex systems is to prefer higher-energy basins of attraction rather than settle into satiation and dull comfort. Given this understanding of the emotions in complex animals, there is a fundamental need for inspiration to fuel the self-initiated activation of the system; lack of this basic inspiration is depression. In sophisticated conscious beings, the need for inspiration is exacerbated by awareness of the problems of finitude; love, the arts and religion are meant to address this heightened need for inspiration. Fundamentalist approaches, however, contend with the problem of finitude in an inauthentic way-by simply denying them. This fundamentalist approach leads to corresponding distortions of ethical and political attitudes.
165. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 15 > Issue: 2
David Chan Philosophy, Religion and Love: Ellis on the Fundamental Need for Inspiration
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Ralph Ellis has written about how we have a fundamental need for ‘inspiration’ that can help us come to terms with human finitude. Arguing against the self-deceptive path of religious fundamentalism, Ellis discusses how the experience of a transcendent object of intrinsic value through love enables us to break out of a ‘circle of egocentricity.’ In this paper, I explore the problem of finitude in the movie Stranger Than Fiction, faced by someone who has to make choices knowing that he is merely a character in someone else’s novel. I show how philosophy is also needed, alongside a loving relationship, for moral choice and motivation. I then suggest that Aristotle’s ethics is an example of how both philosophical knowledge and experience of life can be combined in dealing with our lack of moral certainty.
166. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Lisa Campo-Engelstein Cultural Memory, Empathy, and Rape
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Assuming a relational understanding of the self, I argue that empathy is necessary for individual and cultural recovery from rape. However, gender affects our ability to listen with empathy to rape survivors. For women, the existence of cultural memories discourages empathy either by engendering fear of their own future rape or by provoking sympathy rather than empathy. For men, the lack of cultural memories makes rape what Arendt calls an "unreality," thus diminishing the possibility for empathy. Although empathetic listeningpresents gender specific challenges for both women and men, it should not be abandoned as a strategy for trauma recovery. I make two broad suggestions for promoting empathy. First, we need to teach empathy for victims and survivors. Second, we need to discredit problematic gender norms, which buttress rape culture and sexual violence.
167. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Adam Briggle Retail Sanity, Wholesale Madness: The Question Concerning Sustainability
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This paper looks at the question of sustainability through the prism of a collective action problem fundamentally driven by human desires and needs. It ftrst characterizes the problem of non-sustainability by combining environmental ethics with the philosophy of technology. The paper then considers four basic strategies for resolving the collective action problem: virtue, regulation, price, and innovation. Each solution has its own set of weaknesses and strengths, meaning that achieving sustainability will remain a difficult balancing act.
168. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Courtney S. Campbell Northwest Passages: Some Lessons from Ten Years Of Death with Dignity
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Recent developments in Washington State and Montana have revived interest in death with dignity legislation. Oregon has a decade of experience with this professional experiment in the ethics of end-of-life care that is relevant for subsequent citizen referenda or legislation. This essay discusses the professional, regulatory and ethical issues displayed by the implementation of death with dignity in Oregon. My analysis generates conclusions that while the Oregon statute and its implementation has advanced patient choice andempowered professionals, it has failed a critical test of public transparency and has diffused philosophical meanings of the concept of "dignity."
169. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Noel E. Boulting Is Life Worth Living?: Or does it Depend on the Liver?
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James offers ways for escaping pessimism: i) leaving "the bare facts by themselves" - in construing the scientific order of nature - or permitting ii) a "religious reading to go on" by postulating "supplementary facts which may be discovered" or iii) "believed in". Adopting ii), we can trust the idea that "a still wider world may be there" as a "maybe" and then act as if the invisible world thereby suggested was real, enabling us "to live in the light of " our "religious demands". One way of approaching Bloch's philosophy is to see him as dealing with James's three ways. A case can be made for Bloch's naturalism, phenomenologically understood, akin to James's second way. Yet, Bloch could also be regarded as adopting something like James's third way in terms of a teleologism messianically understood needed to ground the idea of Hope. But can Bloch's reconcile these two conceptions successfully?
170. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Caroline W. Meline A Philosophical Approach to Dieting: CompatibiIism, Creativity, and Weight Control
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Eschewing talk about a strong or weak will, I view the will of the dieter to be essentially identical to that of the normal eater, and say they differ only in the luck of their circumstances. However, I adopt a compatibilist approach to the will, generally, such that the dieter, despite having unlucky circumstances, is responsible for her efforts to lose weight. I base this on Hook's view that a person does not know what she can do before doing it, and that she can "redetermine the direction of events" through effort. But a model of "redetermining" the will in which this is a conscious activity is insufficient to address the dieter's problem. I advocate consideration of another dimension of experience, based on the psychoanalytic theory of D.W. Winnicott, in which creative insight arises from the unconscious true self. I suggest that creative insight bypasses the will to radically change the dieter's perspective in a way that conscious strategies alone cannot achieve. I conclude that freedom is possible on the basis of conscious willing and in tapping the unconscious true self.
171. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Janet Donohoe Where Were You When ... ?: On the Relationship Between Individual Memory and Collective Memory
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This paper argues that private, individual memory is often only made possible through a collectivelhistorical memory that makes itself felt at a most fundamental level of place. It draws upon Husserl's concept of the lifeworld in opposition to Ricoeur's notion of narrative identity. I show that in focusing on narrative, Ricoeur fails to recognize the ways in which the very constitution of the world, of places, becomes the avenue of support for narratives, intersubjectivity, and collective memory. The analysis makes explicit the manner in which experience itself can be collective and is grounded not only in narrative, but in the world, specifically in places in the world that are not private, isolated places, but places of communality. The idea of lifeworld serves as a foundation for collective memory in terms not only of shared experiences, but also in terms of traditions that have been inherited through built places.
172. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Michael A. Louden Emotionally Qualified: The Ontological Connection of the Self and the Other in Sartre
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In Sartre's philosophy, the existence of consciousness as a negation of Being is problematic for considerations of the Self, which. is required for foundations within the world. This grounding seems to entail an essential relationship with an Other. However, he maintains that one can only know the Other as a fact of the world By explicating his theory of the emotions, I will argue that an emotive relationship with an Other is the ontological qualification for the grounding of consciousness. Emotions affect the body, one's facticity,which is what anchors a person in a situation to an Other.
173. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Eric Weber The Responsibilities and Dangers of Pragmatism
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John Lachs has argued that the value of academic philosophers rests not in their scholarly writing, but fundamentally in their ability to educate minds to be critical and open. In this paper, I show the continuity of this outlook on the work of philosophers with Lachs's stoic pragmatism. Stoic pragmatism is the view that the pragmatic optimism of thinkers like James, Royce, and Dewey must be tempered by a stoic acceptance of our limitations as human beings. While I support Lachs's controversial views regarding stoic pragmatism, I suggest some ways that we can employ the skills of philosophers beyond the classroom as well.
174. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Jeffrey P. Fry Living Like There's No Tomorrow: Urgency, Mindfulness, and Psychological Realism
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This paper explores whether resolving to "live like there's no tomorrow" would be conducive to living life to the fullest. While there is much to commend a life lived with a sense of urgency, I conclude that living like there's no tomorrow, in the final analysis, is neither advisable, nor realizable. In its place I suggest a life lived in mindfulness of the transitory and uncertain nature of our lives.
175. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Christopher J. Collins Family Values and Same-Sex Marriage: Reconciliation via Alain Locke's Value Theory
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Alain Locke, an often neglected classical American Pragmatist, developed a pluralistic value theory as an antidote to the "value absolutism" he considered the root cause of social conflict. Values, for Locke, are not immutable features of a transcendent reality, but rather emerge from human functional attitudes, or what he calls "feeling-modes." However incommensurable the contextualized values of diverse cultures may appear, they can always be traced back to common modes of valuing. Recognizing the common character of our human faculty of valuation allows us to see a basic functional equivalence among superficially conflicting values, thus undermining value absolutism. This paper suggests that one reason the debate over same-sex marriage in the United States has persisted is that the arguments have been advanced primarily in absolute value terms. Re-casting the debate in terms of a Lockean pluralistic value dialogue suggests a path out of the stalemate.
176. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
Trudy D. Conway From Tolerance to Hospitality: Problematic Limits of a Negative Virtue
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This article considers the relation between tolerance and hospitality. It situates this discussion in the history of philosophy with reference to a range of thinkers from Homer and Aristotle to Levinas, Derrida, and Walzer. It argues that the virtue of hospitality is important for negotiating the complexities of our contemporary world. Hospitality responds to the challenge of what is most needed for re-conceiving how one might remain committed to the values of one's own community while also remaining open to those who do not share these same commitments.
177. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 1
John Lachs What Can Philosophy Contribute?
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This essay responds to Eric Weber's article, "The Responsibilities and Dangers of Pragmatism" (in this issue of PCW). It reflects on the question of what academic philosophy can contribute to the contemporary world. Its conclusions are modest but animated by hope that philosophy can help to gradually improve the human condition.
178. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Ileana F. Szymanski Choices in Food and Happiness Seen From the Perspective of Aristotle's Notion of Habit
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In our daily life we develop habits that, being constantly practiced, become part of who we are. Two areas in which we develop habits are the evaluation of sources of food, and the evaluation of sources of happiness. It is my contention that the habits developed in those areas could affect one another. Thus, acquiring good habits in one area is of utmost importance to develop the other one. Conversely, if we develop the bad habit of picky eating this will have as one of its outcomes the development of a bad habit that restricts our openness to rmding avenues for happiness. In order to show how the two habits affect one another, I will use Aristotle's theory of habit as developed in his Nicomachean Ethics.
179. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Luis Roberto Mantilla Sahagún The Challenges of Justice for Global Identity
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The purpose of this paper is to show some of the most important challenges of justice with regard to global identity. I explain the formation of global identity along historical lines in the Western tradition. I then discuss political, economic, cultural, social, scientific and bioethical challenges in achieving justice in the creation of global identity.
180. Philosophy in the Contemporary World: Volume > 16 > Issue: 2
Nicole Note Reflecting on the Meaning of Life
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The question of the meaning and meaningfulness of life is neglected by philosophers today. Meaning is implicitly assumed to be associated with individual choices and preferences. This article argues that meaningfulness works in another way as well, when something provokes meaningfulness. One of the consequences of this vision is that there may well be implicit "standards" for meaning. Certain benchmarks for meaning-references concerned with our "being-in-the-world"-have not been explored fully enough. Another point that as been neglected in the recent discussion on meaningfulness is the very structure of being that is appealed to. This is the key to the experience of a deeper kind of meaningfulness.