Philosophy


Herder, Gadamer, and the Twenty-First Century Humanities. K. Sundaram, Lake Michigan College, Philosophy Department, Benton Harbor, MI 49022-1899; 616/927-8100 x 5181

We cannot address the central questions of philosophy such as the problems of human life, civilization, and residence on the Earth by insisting upon the means and prescriptions of any one tradition. This paper addresses a philosophy of education by considering the views of Johann Gottfried Herder and Hans-Georg Gadamer on education and history. In spite of attacks on his religious loyalty, Herder supported what may today be called pluralism. Having studied history and having watched history in the making in one of its darkest moments, Gadamer also sees the future of the humanities in the global conversation. To educate humanity, the paper concludes, first philosophy should try to understand the existential conditions of humanity.

Conceptions of Personhood as Funding Political Theorizing. Patrick Ellis, Kalamazoo College, Department of Philosophy, Kalamazoo, Ml 49008; 616/337-7076

Recent events in Israel and the Balkans may force us to revisit the classic debate that still rages on today between Communitarian and Liberal political theorists. This debate may be sharply focused around their radically different notions of an adequate concept of "personhood" for the purposes of politically theorizing regarding just institutions. Communitarians have argued that individuals are necessarily products of socialization and associations. The civic republican tradition then argues that these community ties therefore need to be strengthened to realize political freedom. In contrast, the liberal theorists conceive of the political agent as a social atom to which rights and ideals accrue to protect his or her political freedom. Furthermore they contest that it would be only through socially detached rational deliberation that the protection of private liberties would be insured. I argue that both provide insight into an adequate conception of "personhood." Nevertheless, the incompatible notions they hold in respect to socialization and individuation present a false dichotomy. It will only be within Axel Honneth's and Habermas's notions of a robust intersubjectivistic account of rights that a middle and appropriate ground may be found between the rather "thick" and "thin" notion of personhood presented by Communitarian and Liberal political theorists.

On Dennett on the "Mysteries of Consciousness." Michael H. Reed, Eastern Michigan University, Department of History and Philosophy, Ypsilanti, MI 48197; 734/487-0068

For more than twenty-five years, Daniel Dennett has been challenging what he sees as the dualistic "traditional view of consciousness" embodied in our everyday language. He argues that advances in a variety of fields, including neurophysiology, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence present a fundamental challenge to that dualism. Accordingly, he has been attempting to construct a mechanistic theory that will "explain consciousness" in a way that avoids the dualistic "paradoxes" he says plague the traditional view. Drawing inspiration from Wittgenstein, I will inquire into the "traditional mysteries of consciousness" Dennett claims are inherent in our ordinary talk about people and their minds. I will argue that the mysteries Dennett confronts do not reside in the concept of "consciousness" itself, but are rather the products of philosophers' misconstruals of the actual functioning of that concept.

The Relativity of Time. Ross Romanowski, University of Michigan-Flint, Philosophy Department, 303 E Kearsley, Flint, MI 48502-2186

One of the primary purposes of the philosophy of time has always been to overcome the contradictions inherent in our ordinary view of change. Two different theories have offered themselves as solutions to the problem. The first of these theories, the tensed theory, analyzes both change in terms of the past, present, and future. …

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