Volume 22, Issue 2 (2014)
by Thomas Crowther
“Liberty,” as a word, is thrown about contemporary society as casually as a ball is on a summer’s day, and yet, does anyone have a grasp on what it is? If it is freedom from limitation, then liberty must represent nothing less than consciousness without restraint. But though this straightforward definition implies its acquisition to be equally straightforward, the full spectrum of liberty would certainly prove to be one of the most elusive concepts imaginable. As a result, what we have, and what we throw about so indifferently, is a Substitute—a poor kind of replica of the real thing. True liberty—Omniversal liberty—is much less tangible however, and represents the equilibrium that occurs when anything is possible, but where the capacity to ever allow one possibility to dominate over another becomes impossible to maintain.
Learning to Understand Others: The Pragmatic Rhetoric of Ethnography and Religious Ethics in Clifford Geertz’s Works and Lives
By Beth Eddy
This article examines literature from cultural anthropology for insights into ethics. It particularly addresses the moral issue of justly understanding those people different from oneself. Clifford Geertz, pragmatist as well as anthropologist, draws upon the rhetorical theory of Kenneth Burke in his 1988 book Works and Lives. Just this sort of cross-disciplinary borrowing offers resources for understanding what were once religiously-based ethics in a humanistic context. The rhetorical style of various cultural anthropologists serves to inform the rhetorical forms of appeal of theistic and non-theistic ethics.
Evolution and Existentialism
By Sharon M. Kaye
Many philosophers embrace both evolution and existentialism as though these two views provide a mutually supportive foundation for atheism. The story goes that evolution tells us life is meaningless while existentialism tells us what to do about it. In this article, I aim to debunk this story. I begin by explaining the existentialist quest for the meaning of life. Then I explain why it is inconsistent with the principles of evolution. In the end, I argue that the quest for the meaning of life should be abandoned. It is a misleading project that science renders unnecessary. Looked at in this light, existentialism appears as a stripped down version of religion, vainly clinging to dramatic fantasies about human life. Evolution has had a deep and valuable impact upon philosophy. It will not have completed its work, however, until it stamps out existentialism and its atavistic angst once and for all.
Values for Humanists
By Philip Kitcher
The subject of this article is the nature of values. One of the great challenges that is always presented to humanists is, how we can make sense of values? How do you give meaning to your life? How do you avoid some kind of relativism or subjectivism about values? Dostoevsky’s great character Ivan Karamazov asserts boldly, if God is dead, everything is permitted. And that’s a common attitude among non-humanists.
Atheist Jesus: A Revolution of Paradigms
By Nicolò Scalzo
This article examines Jesus of Nazareth through the lens of a theory that challenges the weak points of the two paradigms that dominate the current historical research in this field, while more effectively explaining traits ascribed to the figure of Jesus revealing an incredible humanistic profile. Anthropology, psychology and sociology will contribute in a very important way to the analyses developed in this article.
Santayana and His “Hero”
By Daniel Spiro
When George Santayana left us in 1952, it was easy to see where he ranked among philosophers in at least two respects. In the domain of eloquence, Santayana is clearly among his profession’s pantheon. Together with such pre-decessors as Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche, Santayana is one of philosophy’s greatest prose stylists. Virtually all of his books have a number of quotable passages, most famously his comment that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Santayana 1905, 284). Santayana also has to his name a best-selling philosophical novel, The Last Puritan, as well as his massive autobiography, Persons and Places, an enjoyable read known as much for its literary flair as for the profundity of its ideas.
Converging on Culture: Rorty, Rawls, and Dewey on Culture’s Role in Justice
By Eric Thomas Weber
In this essay, I review the writings of three philosophers whose work converges on the insight that we must attend to and reconstruct culture for the sake of justice. John Rawls, John Dewey, and Richard Rorty help show some of the ways in which culture can enable or undermine the pursuit of justice. They also offer resources for identifying tools for addressing the cultural impediments to justice. I reveal insights and challenges in Rawls’s philosophy as well as tools and solutions for building on and addressing them in Dewey’s and Rorty’s philosophy.