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December 2012


Rethinking Honor with Aristotle and Confucius, MAY SIM

Confucius and Aristotle share the conviction that the virtuous deserves honor.  While Aristotle thinks that the completely virtuous person should make claims to the honor he rightly deserves, Confucius maintains that he should be humble and disregard such claims.  This radical opposition between Aristotle and Confucius about the good man’s attitude toward honor provides a case for examining the exemplary person for them.  The author considers the reasons for their differences by focusing on the following questions: Who accords the honor?  Does honor have any effect on the good man’s actions, attitudes, virtues and self-knowledge?  Whose account is superior?  And to which criteria should we appeal for adjudicating Aristotle’s and Confucius’ contradictory claims?  Focusing on ‘pride’, the author examines if the virtue of honor which gives rise to these rival claims in Aristotle and Confucius can provide the resources for resolving their conflicts.—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Punishment and Moral Sentiments, THOM BROOKS

What is the relationship between our moral sentiments and the justification of punishment?  One position is that our moral sentiments provide for punishment’s justification.  This article’s focus is on Adam Smith’s theory of punishment and the role that moral sentiments play in this theory.  The author argues that commentators have been mistaken to view Smith’s position as essentially retributivist.  Instead, Smith defends a unified theory where punishment serves retributivist, deterrent, and rehabilitative goals.  The author then concludes with some critical remarks on how well this theory speaks to contemporary concerns.

Locating the Lost Island, WILLIAM E. MANN

This article replies to Lynne Rudder Baker and Gareth B. Matthews’s “Anselm’s Argument Reconsidered,” in which the authors claim to have produced a sound version of Anselm’s ontological argument.  Using Gaunilo’s “lost island” counterexample, this article explores the question whether an Anselmian argument can prove the existence of the greatest conceivable being without relying on premises that also prove the existence of the greatest conceivable island.  A premise crucial to any such argument is a “greatness principle,” about which there has recently been scholarly disagreement.  This article examines two versions: (GP′) If it is in the understanding alone, it can be conceived to exist in reality also, which is greater, and (GP*) If it exists in the understanding alone, that which is greater can be conceived to exist in reality also.  A distinctive feature of Baker and Matthews’s approach is that it countenances some “objects of thought” that not only do not exist in reality but logically cannot exist in reality.  They then argue that for any conceivable island, a greater island is conceivable, but that there cannot be a conceivable being greater than the greatest conceivable being.  Their strategy is vulnerable on two counts.  It does not address the possibility that there is no upper limit to greatness in conceivable beings.  Nor does it assure us that the greatest conceivable being is even logically possible.  Thus their version of Anselm’s argument is inconclusive.—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Aquinas’s Commentary on Boethius’ De Trinitate, ARIBERTO ACERBI

The author seeks to clarify the theoretical relevance of a problem developed by Aquinas in his Commentary on Boethius’ De Trinitate: how can our intellect recognize the ontological and epistemic priority of a sense substance?  The difficulty seems to arise from the Platonic vinculation among intelligibility, necessity, and universality, and therefore from the opposition between intellegibility and the main properties of the sense substance: individuality and becoming.  The coherence of Aquinas's solution is here examined: how to maintain the Aristotelian vinculation among being, individuality, and activity with the Platonic assumption about the ontological and epistemic priority of the form.  A solution is offered by the author regarding the capacity of the human intellect to go beyond the representation of the formal dimension of being in order to perceive its existential dimension.  This solution (here only sketched) suggests the metaphysical consistency of human experience.—Correspondence to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Idealism, Scientia Intuitiva, and Scientific Philosophy, PHILLIP STAMBOVSKY

“Considered objectively, there can be only one human reason, there . . . can be only one true system of philosophy from principles, in however many different and even conflicting ways one has philosophized about the same proposition”—so declares Kant in the Vorrede to the “Doctrine of Right.”  Kant makes this observation in the process of framing a striking claim: “prior to the development of critical philosophy there had been no philosophy at all.”  Eckart Förster adduces this claim as a point of departure for undertaking “to grasp and understand the single [sic] thought” that orients his ambitious new study, Twenty-Five Years of Philosophy: A Systematic Reconstruction.  It is thus with reference to Kant’s pronouncement that Förster propounds his book’s lead thought, or at least the first part of it: “philosophy begins in 1781 and ends in 1806,” this in the sense that over those twenty-five years “philosophy became a science, thereby also arriving at knowledge of itself.”  Förster sets himself the task of elucidating the “internal dynamic” of the “fundamental idea” that informs the philosophical-historical thesis to which he keys his investigation.  The fundamental idea in question is the classic speculative problematic of objective knowledge, which in the Kantian context of Förster’s study takes the form of the issue of how it is that we know (discursively, intuitively) “the supersensible substrate of appearances.”  Beyond simply anatomizing this issue, however, the author engages “to reproduce its immanent development,” systematically “reconstructing” it through interlinked analyses of seminal writings of Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Goethe, and Hegel. 


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