Philosophy. (Abstracts-2003 Annual Meetings)

Michigan Academician, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Philosophy. (Abstracts-2003 Annual Meetings)


Political Participation in Augustine's City of God. Mark Schemper, Calvin College, Philosophy Department; home address: 1417 Bemis SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506; mschem73@calvin.edu

In Book XIX of The City of God, Augustine explores the question of how citizens of the heavenly city should interact with earthly political systems during their pilgrimage in the earthly city. Drawing on Books V and XIX of The City of God, this paper explores (1) whether Augustine believes there is merit to the political systems of the earthly city, (2) Augustine's redefinition of a people or republic, and (3) the implications of Augustine's belief and redefinition for citizens of the heavenly city for political participation in the earthly city. I will argue that Augustine does see some merit, albeit earthly merit, in earthly political systems. Based on this earthly merit and his definition of a people or republic, Augustine believes citizens of the heavenly city can and should participate in earthly political systems. Not only should they participate, they should try to transform these flawed systems during their sojourn in the earthly city. The flaw in earthly political systems, just as in citizens of the earthly city, is the orientation towards self rather than the divine. Therefore, transformation of these systems means changing this ultimate commitment to that of the citizens of the heavenly city.

Chu Hsi and Thomas Aquinas on the Foundations of Moral Self-Cultivation. Andrew J. Dell'Olio, Hope College, Philosophy Department, Holland, MI 49423

In the West, it has become commonplace in introductions to the thought of the great Neo-Confucian philosopher, Chu Hsi (1130-1200 C.E.), to compare him to the medieval Christian philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 C.E.). Their reputations as the great synthesizers of their respective traditions are well deserved, and a comparison of the two is easily justified. But can the comparison between Chu Hsi and Aquinas extend beyond their situational similarities to more substantive philosophical ones? I believe that instructive comparisons can be made between the philosophies of Chu Hsi and Aquinas, especially in the area of moral philosophy and, in particular, the theory of moral self-cultivation. In this paper I will examine some of the structural and conceptual similarities between the views of Chu Hsi and Aquinas on moral self-cultivation by focusing on the metaphysical foundations of these views. I hope to show that Chu Hsi and Aquinas employ similar strategies, and make use of similar metaphysical princi ples, to unite the humanistic and spiritual dimensions of moral self-cultivation into one synthetic vision. I will conclude by offering some reflections on the implications of this study for the attempt at cross-cultural philosophical exchange.

Issues in Philosophical Methodology: Heidegger's Destructive Reading of Nietzsche. Daniel Fidel Ferrer, Central Michigan University, Libraries, 300 East Preston, Mount Pleasant, MI 46859

What is the nature of philosophical methodology? Does philosophy even have a methodology? Some would argue that philosophical methodology is based on argument and logic. Martin Heidegger has a unique way of carrying through a destructive reading of metaphysicians like Nietzsche without using logic and arguments. Heidegger is putting metaphysicians in a broader perspective. Heidegger has been criticized for only having a destructive reading of philosophers. This destructive methodology needs to be examined critically. Heidegger's early philosophical writings and university lectures are centered on Greek philosophers, medieval philosopher, Kant, and the German Idealist. It was during the late 1930s and 1940s that Heidegger began an extensive dialogue with Nietzsche. During Heidegger's life time his largest philosophical work on a single philosopher was a two volume set on Nietzsche, published in 1961 at the age of 72. So, evidently Heidegger's confrontation with Nietzsche was important to him. …

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