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A Companion to Ricoeur's Freedom and Nature

2019.03.23 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Scott Davidson (ed.), A Companion to Ricoeur's Freedom and Nature, Lexington, 2018, 233pp., $100.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781498578882. Reviewed by Pol G. Vandevelde, Marquette University This collection of twelve essays is a welcome and successful attempt to bring back to light one of Paul Ricoeur’s first books, Freedom and Nature, a long (464 pages) and difficult one. It was not Ricoeur’s first monograph. He had published Karl Jaspers et la philosophie de l’existence (co-authored with Mikel Dufrenne) in 1947 and Gabriel Marcel et Karl Jaspers: Philosophie du mystère et philosophie du paradoxe in 1948. Yet, Freedom and Nature, published in 1950, is the first important, consistent effort by Ricoeur to present his own views in a systematic way. The book was intended as the first volume of a larger project on a “Philosophy of the Will.” The French title of this first volume is Philosophie... Read [More]

Meritocracy Is Good But We Don't Have It

The most surprising thing about the news that wealthy parents are bribing their children’s way into elite colleges was the outrage that it produced. After all, revelations of public corruption and depravity are now regular occurrences, and college admissions have rarely been considered a model of fairness.  Why so much upset over so little (relative) wrongdoing?The answer, I think, is that these events implicate the meritocratic ideal upon which the United States was founded, and which people still endorse.  Already we are being told, variously, that it all goes to show that meritocracy is an “illusion” or a “myth”; or maybe that meritocracy is functioning well; or that it is an “historically awful idea”; and more.  Alas, none of these authors take the time to say what they mean by “meritocracy”, making the claims hard to evaluate.  So I’d like to take a moment to explain precisely what a meritocracy is before drawing what I regard as the important moral lessons from the scandal.A [More]