The Unnatural Lottery: Character and Moral Luck
The opportunities to become a good person are not the same for everyone. Modern European ethical theory, especially Kantian ethics, assumes the same virtues are accessible to all who are capable of rational choice. Character development, however, is affected by circumstances, such as those of wealth and socially constructed categories of gender, race, and sexual orientation, which introduce factors beyond the control of individuals. Implications of these influences for morality have, since the work of Williams and Nagel in the seventies, raised questions in philosophy about the concept of moral luck. In “The Unnatural Lottery”, Claudia Card examines how luck enters into moral character and considers how some of those who are oppressed can develop responsibility. Luck is often best appreciated by those who have known relatively bad luck and have been unable to escape steady comparison of their lot with those of others. The author takes as her paradigms the luck of middle and lower classes of women who face violence and exploitation, of lesbians who face continuing pressure to hide or self-destruct, of culturally Christian whites who have ethnic privilege, and of adult survivors of child abuse. How have such people been affected by luck in who they are and can become, the good lives available to them, the evils they may be liable to embody? Other philosophers have explored the luck of those who begin from privileged positions and then suffer reversals of fortune. Claudia Card focuses on the more common cases of those who begin from socially disadvantaged positions, and she considers some who find their good luck troubling when its source is the unnatural lottery of social injustice.
Phillip Sidney Horky
Plato and Pythagoreanism
Was Plato a Pythagorean? Plato’s students and earliest critics thought so, but scholars since the nineteenth century have been more skeptical. With this probing study, Phillip Sidney Horky argues that a specific type of Pythagorean philosophy, called “mathematical” Pythagoreanism, exercised a decisive influence on fundamental aspects of Plato’s philosophy. The progenitor of mathematical Pythagoreanism was the infamous Pythagorean heretic and political revolutionary Hippasus of Metapontum, a student of Pythagoras who is credited with experiments in harmonics that led to innovations in mathematics. The innovations of Hippasus and other mathematical Pythagoreans, including Empedocles of Agrigentum, Epicharmus of Syracuse, Philolaus of Croton, and Archytas of Tarentum, presented philosophers like Plato with novel ways to reconcile empirical knowledge with abstract mathematical theories. Plato and Pythagoreanism demonstrates how mathematical Pythagoreanism established many of the fundamental philosophical questions Plato dealt with in his central dialogues, including Cratylus, Phaedo, Republic, Timaeus, and Philebus. In the process, it also illuminates the historical significance of the mathematical Pythagoreans, a group whose influence on the development of philosophical and scientific methods has been obscured since late antiquity. The picture that results is one in which Plato inherits mathematical Pythagorean method only to transform it into a powerful philosophical argument about the essential relationships between the cosmos and the human being.
Panaesthetics: On the Unity and Diversity of the Arts (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series)
While comparative literature is a well-recognized field of study, the notion of comparative arts remains unfamiliar to many. In this fascinating book, Daniel Albright addresses the fundamental question of comparative arts: Are there many different arts, or is there one art which takes different forms? He considers various artistic media, especially literature, music, and painting, to discover which aspects of each medium are unique and which can be ?translated” from one to another. Can a poem turn into a symphony, or a symphony into a painting?
Albright explores how different media interact, as in a drama, when speech, stage decor, and music are co-present, or in a musical composition that employs the collage method of the visual arts. Tracing arguments and questions about the relations among the arts from Aristotle’s Poetics to the present day, he illuminates the understudied discipline of comparative arts and urges new attention to its riches.
Robert W. Lurz
The Philosophy of Animal Minds
This volume is a collection of fourteen essays by leading philosophers on issues concerning the nature, existence, and our knowledge of animal minds. The nature of animal minds has been a topic of interest to philosophers since the origins of philosophy, and recent years have seen significant philosophical engagement with the subject. However, there is no volume that represents the current state of play in this important and growing field. The purpose of this volume is to highlight the state of the debate. The issues which are covered include whether and to what degree animals think in a language or in iconic structures, possess concepts, are conscious, self-aware, metacognize, attribute states of mind to others, and have emotions, as well as issues pertaining to our knowledge of and the scientific standards for attributing mental states to animals.
Marquis de Sade
Philosophy In The Bedroom
Philosophy in the Bedroom (La Philosophie dans le boudoir) is a 1795 erotic book by the Marquis de Sade written in the form of a dramatic dialogue. Though initially considered a work of pornography, the book has come to be considered a socio-political drama. Set in a bedroom, the two lead characters make the argument that the only moral system that reinforces the recent political revolution is libertinism, and that if the people of France fail to adopt the libertine philosophy, France will be destined to return to a monarchic state.
Oh, that, in between sodomy and farting in to each other’s mouths that is. A delightful mix of political discourse and rampant perversion as only the Marquis de Sade could write.