Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Fw: BMCR 2008.01.51,Proc. of the Boston Area Colloq. in Ancient Philosophy, XXII

Expand Messages
  • Edward Moore
    ... From: Bryn Mawr Reviews To: Bryn Mawr Reviews Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2008 7:28 PM Subject: BMCR
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2008
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Bryn Mawr Reviews" <bmr@...>
      To: "Bryn Mawr Reviews" <bmr-l@...>
      Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2008 7:28 PM
      Subject: BMCR 2008.01.51,Proc. of the Boston Area Colloq. in Ancient
      Philosophy, XXII

      > John J. Cleary, Gary M. Gurtler S.J., Proceedings of the Boston Area
      > Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, vol. xxii, 2006. Leiden: Brill,
      > 2007. Pp. 263. ISBN 978-90-04-16048-4. $167.00.
      > Reviewed by Daniel P. Maher, Ave Maria University
      > (dan.maher@...)
      > Word count: 2251 words
      > -------------------------------
      > To read a print-formatted version of this review, see
      > http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2008/2008-01-51.html
      > -------------------------------
      > Volume 22 of The Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy (BACAP)
      > continues the tradition of matching high-quality philosophical essays
      > with critical commentaries. With one exception (more on this below),
      > the seven colloquia were held in the 2005-2006 academic year at
      > participating institutions near Boston. These seven essays, treating
      > Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Plotinus, deserve the attention of
      > graduate students and of those writing on the issues or texts
      > addressed. Additionally, teachers of ancient philosophy will likely
      > find these essays helpful for freshening their approach the next time
      > they cover familiar texts. No single theme or topic unites the essays,
      > which concentrate on exegesis of ancient texts, but also shed light on
      > contemporary philosophical issues. While some essays range broadly
      > (Edward Halper addresses the entire Aristotelian corpus) and others
      > focus narrowly (Eric Brown deals primarily with only a few chapters of
      > Nicomachean Ethics), each of the essays treats substantive
      > philosophical issues and admirably devotes careful attention to texts.
      > They reward consideration whether or not one finds the interpretations
      > finally compelling. Volume 22 is an excellent addition to the series.
      > The series aims in each volume to preserve the dialogical character of
      > the colloquia by allowing each author to adjust the print versions of
      > their remarks in light of comments made on the occasion of the
      > colloquium and subsequently by reviewers. The proceedings, then, yield
      > a polished presentation that more fruitfully rewards study. The authors
      > have had time to tighten and clarify their arguments. The increased
      > precision and sharpening of points of disagreement must elevate rather
      > than diminish the dialogical dimension.
      > In a departure from past practice in the series, each essay and
      > commentary is preceded by an abstract. These abstracts collectively
      > substitute for an editor's introduction. A bibliography is attached to
      > each essay-commentary pair, which is helpful, although these
      > bibliographies are not always complete (see note 10 on page 151).
      > Two editorial difficulties deserve mention. First, several commentaries
      > make various references to specific pages of the articles on which they
      > comment. Unfortunately, the pagination the commentators rely upon is
      > not the pagination of the printed text. E.g., Mark McPherran refers to
      > 219-220 of C.D.C. Reeve's paper, but that paper ends on 209. Thus, the
      > internal page references are almost useless. The second difficulty is
      > the decision to print Eric Brown's paper without a commentary. The
      > preface states that Brown's paper was given in 2004-2005 and published
      > (2006) in volume 21 of this series. Nevertheless, due to an error,
      > Brown's paper was printed without footnotes. It is reprinted in volume
      > 22 with footnotes, but without Gary Gurtler's commentary, which may be
      > found in volume 21. Thus, we have two incomplete publications of the
      > Brown colloquium. Finally, I noted more than a dozen typographical
      > errors, but none of these causes any confusion.
      > First Colloquium: Eric Perl, "The Togetherness of Thought and Being: a
      > Phenomenological Reading of Plotinus' Doctrine 'That the Intelligibles
      > are Not Outside the Intellect'"
      > Perl argues that Plotinus' doctrine concerning the fundamental
      > togetherness of intellectual consciousness and intelligible being can
      > "accurately be described as phenomenological, and indeed is closely
      > paralleled by Husserl's overcoming of modern subject-object dualism"
      > (1-2). He advances a realist interpretation of Husserl to show that
      > "consciousness and being cannot be conceived as two spheres which are
      > only extrinsically related. Rather, they are necessarily together, two
      > inseparable moments of one reality" (6-7). "Plotinus, then, not only
      > rejects subject-object dualism for the same reasons as Husserl, but
      > reaches the same alternative position and expresses it in virtually the
      > same terms" (14). Plotinus says, "every intellection is from something
      > and is of something" (VI.7.40.6), which is, Perl says, "as pure a
      > statement of intentionality as could be found in Husserl or any other
      > phenomenologist" (16). In a brief concluding section, Perl explains the
      > power of this phenomenological reading to illuminate many aspects of
      > Plotinus' thought and to address the challenge of contemporary nihilism
      > by recovering the togetherness of thought and being.
      > Robert M. Berchman's commentary constitutes a kind of root-and-branch
      > rejection. He argues that Perl's phenomenological reading operates with
      > an essentially modern understanding of "self" or "consciousness." He
      > argues that Plotinus is neither an idealist nor a phenomenologist, but
      > a realist, which entails adherence to a mind-independent reality.
      > Second Colloquium: Kevin L. Flannery, S.J., "Force and Compulsion in
      > Aristotle's Ethics"
      > Flannery offers an analysis of Aristotelian casuistry with respect to
      > brute force, when the agent contributes nothing, and less strict forms
      > of force, when the agent may still retain the ability to act. For
      > example, when a ship is blown off course, the pilot retains some
      > ability to direct the ship, but the force exonerates him for failing to
      > arrive at the proper destination. Flannery offers close textual
      > analysis and careful parsing of Aristotle's Greek to elucidate
      > troublesome passages and to support his argument that these "forced
      > acts" do not render the agent wholly passive and are not instances of
      > "mixed acts" (such as throwing goods overboard during a storm). His
      > thesis seems to be that in the presence of this non-debilitating "force
      > that comes from human nature" (57) one is led to act for something good
      > (e.g., putting into port). "Mixed acts," by contrast, involve choosing
      > voluntarily something that is "per se not a good thing to do" (57). The
      > difference between the good things and the not-good things is
      > established by "a particular conception of human nature and what it
      > puts forward as to be pursued and avoided" (57).
      > Thornton C. Lockwood's commentary helpfully draws attention to the
      > incompleteness of Flannery's treatment of the per se goods and the
      > account of human nature he says Aristotle deploys. Lockwood questions
      > whether Flannery's view is consistent with Aristotle's account of
      > gentleness and of the voluntariness of "character states."
      > Third Colloquium: Edward C. Halper, "Metaphysics I and the Difference
      > It Makes"
      > Halper's ambitious essay calls for a program of research that will
      > refine, if not replace, "some of what is widely assumed to be firm
      > Aristotelian doctrine," especially the understanding of genera (71).
      > Drawing especially upon the biology and a difficult passage in
      > Metaphysics Iota, Halper argues that the object of each science is a
      > genus and that each genus is understood through a paradigm species that
      > orders the multiplicity of the several species of the genus. "Aristotle
      > practices a kind of paradigmatism" (69), which means that "features of
      > imperfect species are intelligible in reference to the one species that
      > serves as the qualitative unity of the genus" (82). The primary species
      > in each genus is independently intelligible, but no other species in
      > the genus is intelligible independently. Halper proceeds to consider
      > examples from the corpus in which Aristotle's practice shows adherence
      > to this view. Halper argues that paradigmatism enables us to reconcile
      > certain contradictions in Aristotle's writing's (principally the
      > contradiction between the doctrine of spontaneous generation and the
      > denial that form is generated). He tries to set familiar Aristotelian
      > doctrines, especially from the biology, but also from politics, within
      > the context of paradigmatism (102).
      > Arthur Madigan's comments question the relation of the paradigmatism
      > thesis to other Aristotelian teachings. Madigan draws attention in a
      > variety of ways to what is surely the greatest obstacle to the
      > paradigmatism thesis: "the paradigmatic account of substances says that
      > the paradigm species in each genus has a contrary, its privation, and
      > that all the other species in the genus arise from various mixtures or
      > combinations of these contraries" (107).
      > Fourth Colloquium: Deborah K. W. Modrak, "Form and Function"
      > Modrak presents a fresh look at familiar terrain in the Aristotelian
      > literature: the relation between the Aristotle's ontology of substance
      > and his account of knowledge and definition. Modrak helpfully displays
      > the "shift" within Metaphysics Zeta from "essence as the object of
      > definition to essence as the immanent cause of the nature of the
      > perceptible substance" (115). She offers many interesting observations
      > relating the account of substance as actuality in Metaphysics Theta 6
      > to the accounts of actuality in Physics and De anima. She takes form to
      > be logos; this "structural principle" may be expressed in matter as the
      > "functional organization" of particular matter and may be expressed in
      > thought to capture the functional organization characteristic of the
      > species (119). Because logos or essence "is the same" whether
      > individualized in matter or conceived alone by itself, she holds that
      > form is not made particular when it actualizes matter (131). The name
      > of the species ("human") is predicated in one way of matter and in
      > another way of individual human beings. Only the latter, Modrak argues,
      > is the sort of universal Aristotle means to exclude from the category
      > of substance with his anti-Platonist arguments in Zeta 13.
      > Mary Louise Gill presents a clear and strong criticism of Modrak,
      > centered on the interpretation of Zeta 13 as justification for her own
      > thesis that the whole of Zeta is aporetic. Several decades of extensive
      > critical discussion have left the competing lines of interpretation so
      > well-defined that it is unlikely anyone's view will be altered by this
      > exchange. Nevertheless, the arguments are well-stated and Gill's
      > commentary provides an illuminating contrast.
      > Fifth Colloquium: Suzanne Stern-Gillet, "Consciousness and
      > Introspection in Plotinus and Augustine"
      > Stern-Gillet examines introspection as an exegetical category utilized
      > by interpreters of Plotinus and Augustine. She argues that Plotinus
      > makes use of a distinctively un-modern concept of consciousness (156)
      > that is "inherently inimical to the practice of introspection" (146).
      > She argues that Augustine's De Trinitate presents consciousness as
      > self-transparent, such that introspection becomes unnecessary, while
      > his Confessions permits us to distinguish "confessional " from
      > "contemplative" introspection. The moral and spiritual obstacles to
      > confessional introspection disclose the mind as an abyss (166-69).
      > Confessional introspection prepares for contemplative introspection,
      > which is the joyful contemplation of the inner presence of the divine
      > (169-70). These explications are worth examining closely, but the
      > larger strategy Stern-Gillet employs is less compelling and might be
      > handled better in a separate essay. This larger strategy frames the
      > investigations into Plotinus and Augustine by reference to various
      > contemporary understandings of introspection. It is never quite clear
      > whether she means to deliver Plotinus and Augustine from exegetical
      > anachronisms or means to trace the development of introspection from
      > Plotinus' anti-introspection to Augustine's proto-introspection (173)
      > and then to various modern and contemporary transformations.
      > John Peter Kenney's commentary helpfully expands the discussion by
      > focusing on how Plotinus and Augustine account for the soul's
      > "cursiveness," its capacity to locate itself morally and metaphysically
      > at different levels. The difference between the pagan and the Christian
      > appropriation of this theme is illuminating, and Kenney argues that
      > Augustine's contemplative introspection precedes his confessional
      > introspection.
      > Sixth Colloquium: C. D. C. Reeve, "Goat-Stags, Philosopher-Kings, and
      > Eudaimonism in the Republic"
      > Reeve addresses the tension between happiness and justice for the
      > philosophers obliged to rule in Kallipolis. Reeve takes the
      > ship-of-state simile to show that the relation between philosophers and
      > the city in Kallipolis differs from that relation in every other city.
      > Reeve argues that the image presents not the political structure of
      > Athens or democracy but the corrosive influence of public opinion on
      > philosophical natures in any city (187, 193). The image resembles a
      > goat-stag (488a2-7) because it combines features that do not cohere
      > together. It depicts the experiences of different types of philosopher
      > in relation to cities (189). Reeve also uses this interpretation, in
      > conjunction with other evidence, to defend the claim that compelling
      > philosophers to rule for the benefit of others is both just and
      > compatible with their ruling voluntarily (i.e., in keeping with their
      > own happiness). It is inevitable that an essay touching so many central
      > issues in the Republic should present many facets one might find
      > controversial. To mention just one, Reeve depends on the assumption
      > that the aim of the Republic as a whole is "to show that justice as a
      > state of the soul (psychic justice) pays higher eudaimonistic dividends
      > than psychic injustice" (194). It seems reasonable to suppose, however,
      > that this demand, made by Glaucon and Adeimantus on Socrates (see 185),
      > may not exhaust Plato's aims in writing the book.
      > Mark McPherran's commentary questions especially the identification of
      > the ship owner with the immature philosophical nature, and he offers
      > interesting, but also very questionable evidence in support.
      > Additionally, and reasonably, McPherran raises significant difficulties
      > for Reeve's harmonization of the compulsory and the voluntary
      > dimensions of the rule of the philosopher-kings.
      > Seventh Colloquium: Eric Brown, "Wishing for Fortune, Choosing
      > Activity: Aristotle on External Goods and Happiness"
      > Brown brings an innovative approach to a traditional dispute: the
      > breadth or narrowness of Aristotle's account of happiness. Brown holds
      > that happiness is identified properly with virtuous activity. He
      > attends closely to the structural transitions in Nicomachean Ethics I,
      > ch. 8-12, and devotes approximately half the essay to analysis of "the
      > central argument" (1099a31-b8). He is eager to construe this argument
      > to mean not that happiness includes external goods as constituents but
      > that those goods are necessary for virtuous activity. In this view,
      > Aristotle is accommodating the ordinary conception of happiness as
      > "optimally fulfilled wishes" (249) to his narrow identification of
      > happiness with virtuous activity (245-46). "When we fail to enjoy the
      > objects of our wishes, our capacity for virtuous activity is
      > diminished, by psychological and social mechanisms" (249). By wishing
      > for (rather than choosing) certain external goods that are not virtue,
      > the virtuous human being maintains the proper attitudes necessary for
      > virtuous activity (251-52). One dissatisfying feature of this last
      > portion of Brown's essay is the near total absence of explicit textual
      > support for the view of wishes he imputes to Aristotle. That is a
      > departure from the rest of his essay and from the character of the
      > essays in this volume.
      > -------------------------------
      > The BMCR website (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/) contains a complete
      > and searchable archive of BMCR reviews since our first issue in 1990.
      > Please do not reply to this email as this is an unmonitored mailbox.
      > You can contact us by sending e-mail to classrev@.... To
      > subscribe to or unsubscribe from this list, visit
      > http://newmailman.brynmawr.edu/mailman/listinfo/bmcr-l. To unsubscribe,
      > you may also send a blank e-mail to bmcr-l-request@... with
      > the word Unsubscribe in the subject line.
      > _______________________________________________
      > BMR-L mailing list
      > BMR-L@...
      > http://newmailman.brynmawr.edu/mailman/listinfo/bmr-l
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.