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VOLUME LXV, NUMBER 4
June 2012

 

Plato’s and Aristotle’s Answers to the Parmenides Problem, C. J. WOLFE

This paper explores Plato and Aristotle's responses to the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides, who paradoxically said that there is no such thing as non-being, and no such things as change. I argue that Plato’s response (as found in his dialogue the Sophist) would have been good enough to defeat the claim in a debate, thereby remedying the political aspects of the Parmenides problem. However, Aristotle’s answer (as found in Physics book 1, chapter 9) is required to answer some additional philosophical and scientific aspects. Plato's Sophist is a very difficult dialogue to understand; seeing it in light of Aristotle's discussion of the same topic helps to explain the complexities of what his teacher Plato wrote. Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Contemplative Friendship in Nicomachean Ethics, DANIEL P. MAHER

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle’s two forms of human happiness correspond to two forms of human virtue (moral and intellectual) and, I argue, to two forms of virtuous friendship (active and contemplative). I propose that the most properly human form of happiness is achieved in contemplative friendship. This friendship is a genuinely contemplative approximation of divine life and still a specifically human life consisting in discursivespeech with others. Contemplative friends wish the good to one another as human beings and thus fulfill what friendship is more completely than do friends occupied with moral virtue. Aristotle’s text shows, first, that discussion and thinking can be shared more perfectly than can moral action and, second, that intellectual virtue completes human nature more fully than does moral virtue. Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The Invisibility of Philosophy in the Essays of Michel de Montaigne, ANN HARTLE

The Essays do not look like philosophy in any traditional sense: there are no arguments, conclusions, or proofs, and no apparent philosophical teaching. Yet, Montaigne does describe himself as a philosopher: “a new figure: an unpremeditated and accidental philosopher.” Unpremeditated and accidental philosophy, however, just looks like the formless and disordered thoughts of ordinary life and conversation. While philosophy is invisible, Montaigne himself is always visible. Philosophy disappears into the pre-philosophical at the same time and in the same act by which Montaigne emerges into the public in his concrete particularity. The Essays do not look like philosophy because philosophy is not a teaching but an act, the act of bringing the private, common man into the public. At the same time and in the same act, Montaigne transforms both philosophy and human association: the philosophical act is the invention of modern society. Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Why Spinoza is Intolerant of Atheists: God and the Limits of Early Modern Liberalism, MICHAEL A. ROSENTHAL

This paper tests the extent of Spinoza’s liberalism through examining the question whether he would tolerate atheists. The first section analyzes the meaning of atheism through the epistolary exchange with Lambert van Velthuysen. It argues that it makes a difference whether Spinoza is an atheist in the strict sense—someone who explicitly denies the existence of God—or a deist—someone who holds a view of unorthodox God. Spinoza denies the charge that his idea of God undermines morality and he also defends his claim that other monotheistic religions than Christianity might contain a kernel of truth. In the second section, the paper discusses Spinoza’s views on toleration. It argues that the state has a limited interest in regulating religious views and it does this through the “dogmas of universal faith.” The state should tolerate a variety of beliefs about God, including those labeled deist, but strict atheistic beliefs, however, are not to be tolerated. In the third section the paper discusses the challenge of the “virtuous atheist” and compares Spinoza’s views to those of Locke and Bayle. Not only Spinoza’s metaphysics but also his ethical project depends on the proper idea of God. Spinoza explicitly contrasts his view, based on a deist conception of God, with that of Hobbes. He reads Hobbes as an epicurean and an atheist. Spinoza’s critical description of Hobbes’s view helps us understand what he thought atheism was and why he was not very sympathetic to it. Spinoza is intolerant towards atheism because it leads to an immoral life and justifies an absolutist state.—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 Transcending Gadamer: Towards a Participatory Hermeneutics, KEVIN E. O’REILLY

With a few exceptions, Thomists have by and large failed to engage with the historical and hermeneutical turns in philosophy and theology. This article offers an account of what the beginnings of a Thomistic engagement with recent hermeneutical philosophy might look like. In order to develop such an account, the author turns to arguably the most important contemporary hermeneutical philosopher, namely Hans-Georg Gadamer, as a dialogue partner. Despite claims to the contrary, this article argues that Gadamer does not successfully deal with the specter of relativism. It goes on to show how that the thought of Thomas Aquinas can ably deal with this specter. There are two central elements in the argument put forward. Firstly, the author argues that the human being exists in between God as First Efficient Cause of all that exists and God as Final Cause of all that exists. This existence between God as First Efficient Cause of all that exists and God as Final Cause of all that exists furnishes the connatural context in which human knowing and willing unfolds. Secondly, he considers the dynamics of “interinvolvement” between intellect and will. The upshot of these arguments is a construal of reason that is at once capable of universal truth and hermeneutical in nature. Indeed, the universal range of reason and its hermeneutical dimension are in no way opposed to each other: they are rather dual aspects of one and the same reality. – Correspondence to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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