Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

I—Memory from Plato to Damascius

AbstractTaking its cue from a passage in which the late pagan Neoplatonist Damascius criticizes his predecessor Proclus, this paper explores the way that ancient philosophers understood the soul’s access to its own tacit contents through the power of memory. Late ancient discussions of this issue respond to a range of passages in Plato and to Aristotle’s On Memory. After a survey of this material it is shown that for Damascius, but not Proclus, memory requires a distinction between the subject and object of remembering. This means that there can be no memory involved in self-thought, such as occurs in intellect, but only in soul. In conclusion, the paper draws attention to a parallel discussion in Augustine, who, like Proclus, thinks that self-thinking can be understood as a function of [More]

The Politics of Pleasure

Pleasures delivered by reason – from the frissons provoked by a beautiful mathematical equation to the joys inspired by paintings or poetry – are not the majority. It is chiefly for this reason that the media in modernity have proliferated to such a degree as to occupy more time than any activity other than work and sleep. The bulk of popular culture inserts disposable pleasures throughout everyday life. For the most part, the pleasures of our emotions and sensations are momentary respites from the life of calculation that capitalism renders indispensable throughout daily life. (Inspired by Georg Simmel’s Philosophy of Money, I elaborated this argument in my Media Unlimited.) The sheer immensity of media experience is the product of an endless search for the next sensation or feeling. Contra Max Weber, modernity does not drive away enchantment, but pulverises it and sprinkles it around. Thanks to a culture industry that is never more than a click away, the longing for transcendent [More]

Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages: Science, Rationalism, and Religion

2019.06.18 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews T. M. Rudavsky, Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages: Science, Rationalism, and Religion, Oxford University Press, 2018, 305pp., $40.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199580903. Reviewed by Samuel Lebens, University of Haifa To write a book that's accessible to a wide audience, assuming no prior knowledge of Judaism or medieval thought, that contributes new insights to the academic community, and constitutes an intellectual history of Jewish thought from Isaac Israeli (832-932) all the way to Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), including an important backward glance to Philo (b. 25 BCE), and to do so in a book of just ten chapters of manageable length, seems like an a priori impossibility. And yet T. M. Rudavsky achieves all of these things and more. Rudavsky's ability to combine breadth, depth, and clarity, with concision and relative brevity is close to breath-taking. I have no doubt that this book will be of immense value to teachers of intellectual... Read [More]

Denis Diderot

[New Entry by Charles T. Wolfe and J.B. Shank on June 19, 2019.] Because of his public leadership of the philosophe party in eighteenth-century France, Voltaire stands today as the iconic example of the French Enlightenment philosopher. Denis Diderot (1713 - 1784) is often seen as Voltaire's second in that role since it was around both men that the Enlightenment philosophes rallied as a movement after 1750. The epochal project, which Diderot jointly pursued with Jean le Rond D'Alembert, to "change the common way of [More]

Michel Foucault on the insane, the criminals, and the sexual deviants

Michel Foucault (1926-84) was one of the most influential and notable French philosophers and historians of ideas, best known for his theories on discourses and the relation of power and knowledge. His seminal works such as L’histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (1972, trs. as History of Madness, 2006), Surveiller et punir (1975, trs. as Discipline and Punish, 1977), and Histoire […] The post Michel Foucault on the insane, the criminals, and the sexual deviants appeared first on OUPblog.         Related StoriesQuiz: How well do you know Albert Camus?Albert Camus and the problem of absurdityFour remarkable LGBTQ [More]