Tiger Woods and the Right to Privacy, Again

The edifice of perfection surrounding Tiger Woods gave way on Thanksgiving Day last week. Not only did Tiger inexplicably crash his car into a fire hydrant and tree outside his Florida home, but he did so after an alleged fight with his wife about his now confirmed philandering. The resulting media frenzy has been both intense and constant: causing Tiger to issue an initial plea for people to “respect his right to some simple, human measure of privacy.” Tiger’s plea raises many important and interesting philosophical questions–some of which are discussed in this NY Times “Room for Debate” commentary. Continue reading “Tiger Woods and the Right to Privacy, Again”

When Good Philosophers Do Bad Things

596px-Scale_of_justice_2_new Contemporary developments in Hermeneutics have compellingly defended the claim that one cannot ‘put down’ the self in the act of picking up a pen.  Our contexts and ideologies, our histories and stories, bleed into our work. However, while it may be reasonable (and even desirable) to expect readers to juggle the possible influences of a writer’s life and times, one might ask if it is equally so when a particular ‘authorial context’ is judged to be far more dangerous than an ill-fated love affair or the Renaissance.

Recent headlines offer one such example.  An English edition of Emmanuel Faye’s work Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy hits the shelves next month.  And, while ‘Continentals’ have long since known of Heidegger’s ties to Nazism, it is of little doubt that this new translation will further fuel already burning questions: does this imply that Heidegger’s corpus was inspired by National Socialism and, if so, does his philosophy serve to advance it as well? Continue reading “When Good Philosophers Do Bad Things”

What’s in A Signature?

UnderwoodKeyboard Does the medium of pen and paper allow for a greater intimacy than the keyboard? Is the distance between the author and the ‘written word’ somehow smaller than that of ‘typed words?’ In a lecture course on the Pre-Socratics, Martin Heidegger poses similar questions. The late German thinker suggests that the advent of the typewriter marks a clear transition towards a kind of ‘sign-less’ writing, a writing cut off and ‘concealed.’

But have such concerns become vastly outdated? Modern technology has prompted a new set of terms, a new comparison of ‘distance:’ the ‘typed’ versus the ‘cyber.’ The New York Times recently posted a ‘running debate’ on the positive and negative aspects of ‘E-books.’ The many perspectives offered especially focus on questions concerning the ability of E-books to meet the educational ‘needs’ of the ‘human brain.’ Continue reading “What’s in A Signature?”

Atheist Delusions

Atheist DelusionHart, David Bentley, Atheist Delusions, Yale University Press, London / New Haven, CT £19.99 Hardback: ISBN 978-0-300-11190-3

Review by Matthew Feldman, University of Northampton

The battle has finally been joined. For Atheist Delusions is the frontal counter-attack that intelligent persons of faith have been long awaiting. Poor arguments against belief are simply swatted away (e.g. “the truth is that religion and irreligion are cultural variables, but killing is a human constant”, 13). But the main target of attack is the “New Atheism”, particularly those ‘devoutly undevout’ academics evangelizing what David Bentley Hart calls ‘the Gospel of unbelief’. Hart is certainly not alone in his criticism – even if he goes further than most, to the extent that his hyperventilating apologia for Christian humanism might leave more mild-mannered readers somewhat uncomfortable. A taste of his assault on a group he dubs ‘manifestly moral idiots’ is enough to make one blanch; extending to the ‘extravagantly callow’ Sam Harris (The End of Faith) and the ‘borderline illiterate’ Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code); to the ‘intellectual caricature[s]’ and failure of ‘consecutive logic’ by Christopher Hitchens (God is not Great); let alone Hart’s disdain for the High Priest of Atheism, Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), that ‘tireless tractarian’ with ‘an incapacity for philosophical reasoning’ (236, 3-4). Continue reading “Atheist Delusions”

Am I Woman? But I Roar!

431px-Symbol_venus In The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir offers her own response to the question ‘what is a woman?’ Most generally, the French philosopher suggests that women are neither constituted nor recognized by their own autonomy but, rather, by their ‘relation to-’. De Beauvoir calls attention to the historical subjugation that has resulted from this referential identity, specifically when women have been defined in terms of their ‘relation to-men.’

Gold medalist Caster Semenya, a runner from South Africa, has recently seen the ugliness of this subjugation. Doctors across the globe are trying to determine Semenya’s ‘relation to-women,’ trying to determine if Semenya has enough ‘female characteristics’ to continue competing as a ‘woman athlete.’ Unfortunately, many of her fellow runners have already decided the issue for themselves. Elisa Cusma, for example, an Italian woman (I mean … runner), responded simply: “These kind of people should not run with us” [sic]. Continue reading “Am I Woman? But I Roar!”

Is Your Farm In My Network?

400px-Rooster_portrait2 Nostalgia often follows conquest, and our relationship with the natural world is no exception. As human control over nature (or, at least, its illusion of control) has increased, many have responded by racing back to the forests. However, the motivation behind this nostalgia remains unclear – do we return to keep vigil (bearing the knowledge of our mistakes) or simply to purview our spoils?

The American quintessence of this tension is, arguably, Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau took to the woods, hoping that the simplicity offered by nature might allow the distance necessary to understand (or ‘transcend’) industrial society. The irony, or perhaps the gift, of Thoreau is two-fold. For not only does his account of this experience (in Walden, or Life in the Woods) call into question the ‘intellectual’ conquest (as yet another kind of conquest) of nature but it, also, reveals the negligible risk usually taken in these ‘returns.’ Thoreau did build his cabin in the woods. But the area was so close to the edge of town that he could not help but hear the all-too-industrial trains bustling by. Continue reading “Is Your Farm In My Network?”

Give Me Retirement … But Not Yet

Augustinus_1 In The Confessions, Augustine offers a personalized account of his struggle with conversion. While artful in presenting the dirty details, he consistently directs readers to a more general problem – what should one do when caught between what the mind knows and what the body desires? Augustine’s experience of this familiar tension largely focused on celibacy. Although intellectually certain of chastity’s virtue, his ‘broader’ loves left him to beg: ‘Give me continence … but not yet!’ Continue reading “Give Me Retirement … But Not Yet”