Sunday, May 28, 2006

Links and Things

* An article that briefly gives some of Hedwig Conrad-Martius's work in phenomenology. Conrad-Martius was an important student of Husserl and friend of Stein who is little-studied today. This article is very critical, in part because it focuses only on some of her stranger claims; but much of Conrad-Martius's work influenced Edith Stein, whose positions are much less speculative and Romantic than Conrad-Martius's are. As far as I can tell it's the only easily accessible English resource on the web for Conrad-Martius's work.

* Marianne Sawicki has a nice lecture online summarizing Edith Stein's pre-conversion phenomenological work.

* In case you were wondering, the egg came first. Clayton reminds us of this 1992 Mind article on vagueness (PDF) by Sorensen.

* John Calvin died May 27, 1564. Scott Gilbreath has a summary of his life.

* Neil Sinhababu has a good post on morality and objectivity at "The Ethical Werewolf".

* The HTML of Siris as a graph. (Houyhnhnm Land is prettier, because it is less hodgepodge and more WordPress.) You can do your own at Websites as Graphs. It's slow but worth it. Aharef has the explanation of what the graph means. (HT: Pharyngula) I toyed around with it while typing up notes on Suarez's account of efficient causation.

* At "The Elfin Ethicist," Wilson has a post on fear and snobbery in academia that's worth reading. On a different but distantly related note, see Tim Burke's post Some Teaching I Have Known at "Easily Distracted".

* Don't forget that the History Carnival is coming up (June 1) at Aqueduct. If you have any nominations, send them to amy[at]amystevensonline[dot]com.

* One of the great philosophical works of the Middle Ages that just isn't read enough (one of many, I suppose), is Ibn Tufayl's The History of Hayy ibn Yaqzan (PDF). It's the story of a man raised by deer on a desert island who reasons himself into metaphysics and then into union with God. As a narrative, it's an interesting way to structure a set of philosophical arguments. Then, one day, he discovers to his surprise that he's not the only human being in the world when a holy man named Asal discovers him. Asal teaches him language, and discovers to his astonishment that Hayy is so wise already, having attained philosophically what Asal's religion symbolically expresses. (It is a standard theme of Islamic philosophy that the difference between philosophy and religion is that philosophy deals with realities for those who have the intellect for it, and religion deals with images and symbols of those realities for those who don't. We are a long way away from the Christian 'philosophy is the handmaiden of theology' view.) The two of them set out for Asal's home island so that Hayy might teach the people there. The expedition is a disaster. The people are mired in the senses and imagination, so they can't raise their intellects to the intellectual truths Hayy is expressing. He realizes that they can't think about such matters without symbols and images; so he recommends that they follow Muhammad's doctrine in the Qur'an as the only way they can reach spiritual truth, apologizes for his interference, and returns home. As the narrator says:

And when he understood the condition of mankind, and that the greatest part of them were like brute beasts [i.e., in not being able to handle rigorously intellectual truth in any direct way], he knew that all Wisdom, Direction, and good Success consisted in what the Messengers of God had spoken, and in the divine Law delivered; and that there was no way other than this, and that there could be nothing added to it....

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