The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

By Ted Honderich | Go to book overview

ugliness. The property of having aesthetic disvalue, eliciting not indifference but discomfort or misery. Modes of ugliness in art correspond to the various modes of beauty or aesthetic value. If the mode is formal, ugliness is the ill-formed or deformed, misshapen, ill-placed. If the mode is expressive, the ugly may be the sentimental, the mawkish, clichéd, sickening: or it may arise from uncontrolled emotion--bombastic, ranting, or hysterical. If considered from a representational point of view, the objects represented may be judged unrelievedly disagreeable or painful to contemplate. Nevertheless, art can make use of the ugly; and the question must always be asked: Does this prima facie ugly work possess any justifying, compensating features--perhaps social or moral point? Or has this ugly component been transformed--by the medium--by the context--to be ingredient in a new whole with positive aesthetic value? R.W.H.Beauty.
There is a dearth of recent substantial discussions. One locus classicus is Plotinus, Enneads, I. 6. See also Bernard Bosanquet , Three Lectures on Aesthetics ( London, 1915).
Unamuno, Miguel de (1865-1936) . Multi-faceted Spanish writer (novelist, poet, essayist) and professor (philologist). Deeply concerned about the meaning of life and death, which inspired all his writings, and dissatisfied by the sceptical answers of science and reason as regards eternal life, Unamuno argued for an existential attitude--the 'tragic sense of life'--consisting in acting as if human life has in fact a transcendent significance, even given our uncertainty that it has. Unamuno found this attitude exemplified in lonely heroes such as Don Quixote and Jesus: men who, despite their respective folly and doubts (or maybe because of them), carried out their missions, thus redeeming themselves and others. This attitude has a dear religious dimension, closer to Protestant spirituality than to Spanish orthodox Catholicism. In fact, some of Unamuno's works were included in the Index, until the Second Vatican Council. A.GOM.
R. R. Ellis, The Tragic Pursuit of Being: Unamuno and Sartre ( Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1988).
uncertainty principle. Also called the indeterminacy principle, it is based on the orthodox (' Copenhagen') interpretation of a set of mathematical inequalities entailed by quantum mechanics, called uncertainty relations. Roughly, these put a fundamental limit on the accuracy with which one can simultaneously predict the values of certain pairs of physical magnitudes (termed 'incompatible'), such as the position and momentum of a particle. More precisely, if one can predict that a particle's position will (most probably) be found on measurement to fall within some narrow range of values, then accuracy in predicting its momentum to fail within a similarly narrow range must be sacrificed, and vice versa. Orthodoxy interprets this as more than just a limitation on the statistical spread of measurement results, but as a principle governing what can be said about a single particle. Heisenberg mainly argued that the limitation is, epistemic, preventing the simultaneous determination of a particle's position and momentum (and so forever blocking the possibility of predicting its future behaviour); while Bohr argued that the limitation is also ontic, rendering inapplicable the classical concepts of 'position' and 'momentum' to a particle. R.CLI.
M. Jammer, 'The Indeterminacy Relations', in The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics: The Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics in Historical Perspective ( New York, 1974).
unconscious and subconscious mind. Although Freud claimed to have discovered the unconscious mind, there is little doubt that the view that there are aspects of our mental life to which we are not privy was widely available throughout the nineteenth century. Anticipations are to be found in Leibniz, Schelling, and Nietzsche. Freud's own preference was for the term 'unconscious' rather than 'subconscious', which was also widely used, on the grounds that the latter term encourages the equation of the psychical with the conscious. His conception of the unconscious allows that we may possess wishes which may be inaccessible to us. Freud believed that we need assistance from psychoanalysis to recover them.R.A.S.
H. F. Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious ( New York, 1970).

undecidability. Term not only used in the philosophy of mathematics but also deployed by Jacques Derrida and those who have adopted his heterodox procedures in the deconstructive reading of


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The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Portraits xii
  • Contributors xiii
  • On Using the Book xix
  • A 1
  • B 74
  • C 114
  • D 175
  • E 211
  • F 267
  • G 303
  • H 330
  • I 386
  • J 423
  • K 435
  • L 453
  • M 516
  • N 601
  • O 631
  • P 641
  • Q 736
  • R 740
  • S 787
  • T 864
  • U 885
  • V 894
  • W 905
  • X 920
  • Y 921
  • Z 922
  • Appendix - Logical Symbols 925
  • Appendix - Maps of Philosophy 927
  • Appendix - A Chronological Table of Philosophy 945
  • Sources of Illustrations 957
  • Index and List of Entries 959


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