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VII Recognizing

Edward S. Casey Indiana University Press ePub

What is the strange difference between an experience tasted for the first time and the same experience recognized as familiar, as having been enjoyed before, though we cannot name it or say where or when?

—William James, The Principles of Psychology (1890)



I am arriving at the airport in South Bend, Indiana. A figure comes striding toward me, his hand extended. Is it Tom? I cannot recognize him at first, as a large straw hat is drawn down over his face. Then, suddenly, the hat is thrown off, and I just as suddenly recognize who it is: Charles! Although I have not seen Charles since last fall (it is now June), he is instantly recognizable—and clearly distinguishable from Tom, who nevertheless resembles Charles in physique and whom I had expected to meet me on this occasion.

It is striking how much of this experience is present-oriented. One present moment—that of the quasi-recognition of Tom—gives way instantaneously to another present moment, that of actually recognizing Charles. Each moment is all-absorbing, and is occupied without remainder by an act of quasi-or real recognition. The act serves to punctuate the present—to give it its special content and its immediate limits. There is a definite fixation on the present, an anchoring of attention there, as well as a felt presentness of the experience itself as it gives itself to me in the moment of recognition.

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19 Entropy

CLAYTON SCOTT CROCKETT Indiana University Press ePub

Clayton Crockett

THE FUTURE OF Continental philosophy of religion is entropy.

In 1928 Sir Arthur Eddington wrote the following famous caution:

If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations—then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well, these experimenters do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.1

The second law of thermodynamics is the law of entropy. Coined by Rudolf Clausius in 1865, “entropy” is a term that measures the disorder of a system. Entropy is a “turning in” or “turning toward,” a transformation that implies a bending toward disorder in any thermodynamic system. The Second Law of Thermodynamics was formalized by Clausius to explain the profound implications of Sadi Carnot’s work on steam engines in the early 1800s. The Second Law practically undermines the First Law, the idea that all energy as such is conserved, by claiming that in any system disorder always increases as a result of a tendency toward equilibrium. Entropy provides an arrow of time, from past to future, that suggests a limit for both Newtonian physics and quantum physics, with their emphasis on the reversibility of physical interactions.

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Medium 9780253021083

2 Rafts and Arrows: The Two Truths in Pre-Tiantai Buddhism

Brook A. Ziporyn Indiana University Press ePub



The Two Truths in Pre-Tiantai Buddhism


In basic Buddhism, as recorded in the earliest texts, the practice of awareness of desire as desire leads to the “cessation” of desire. This is meant, it seems, quite literally. Letting go of the sense of self, you also let go of your desire, cease to “invest” in it. This is a way of letting the desire be more fully what it is, an impermanent factor in a multi-conditional process. The result is like unplugging an electric fan: the source of power that was perpetuating its activity has been removed. The fan does not stop immediately; it continues to spin on its remaining momentum. But it begins to wind down in the absence of the nourishment that usually “feeds” it. Finally, if we can refrain from “plugging it back in”—attaching to our desire—the desire fades away and ceases. With the ending of desire, its effect, suffering, ceases to arise. This is Nirvana.

But a strange problem comes up here. We saw that any state or experience that begins at a particular time is by definition conditioned. Whatever is conditioned, however, is necessarily a form of suffering. Nirvana, on the other hand, is supposed to be unconditioned and the end of suffering. As such, it does not make sense for it to begin at a certain moment in time. It has to be omnipresent and eternal.

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Medium 9780253002143

Two: Distressed Memory: Hermeneutics and the Venture of the Foreign

James Risser Indiana University Press ePub

Let us recall that in Plato’s Myth of Er, Er the messenger makes a crossing. To be sure, it is no mere crossing from one place to another, but a crossing of borders from this world to the underworld and back. And while in the underworld, he travels from one strange place to another, following those who are deciding their fate. Er is constantly passing beyond the familiar. Er has made a venture into the foreign. As we have already seen in chapter 1, what Er reports from his venture is not without significance for philosophy. The question before us here concerns the character and significance of a crossing involving a crossing-over and a crossing-back in a configuration of departure and return—a crossing with respect to the element of the foreign—for philosophy and for hermeneutics.

Letting Plato continue to speak for philosophy and thus taking the person of Socrates as our primary indication of philosophy, it appears at first glance that the life of philosophy is not concerned with crossing borders and the venture into the foreign entailed by such crossing, but takes place solely in the home, where it depends on a fundamental familiarity and similarity for its presentation. As we learn from the Crito, Socrates has no desire to know any other city or any other laws than those of his native city and home, Athens.1 Moreover, as we learn from the preliminary discussion in the Phaedrus, even being outside his native city and home makes Socrates feel uncomfortable. He bears this discomfort well because Phaedrus discovered a drug to entice him to walk outside the city—the promise of speeches—suggesting at once that this departure from the home is an exception.2 After all, Socrates is Apollo’s gift to the city and Socrates himself will obey this pronouncement to the point of death, refusing the penalty of exile at his trial. And yet, it is also the case that Socrates is something of a stranger to the city, a stranger who finds it necessary for the work of philosophy to make the city strange to itself. He is in fact a stranger to the city because the work of philosophy, as the work of θεωρία, necessarily entails a departure into the foreign. In classical Greece, the cultural practice of θεωρία involved a journey beyond the home, a journey outside the city, for the sake of witnessing an event or spectacle.3 More specifically, this practice involved visits to the oracles, pilgrimages to religious festivals, and journeys abroad for the sake of learning.4 In all cases, the θεωρόζ left the home for a foreign place in order to have a look, to spectate, so that he would then return home with a broader view. As a civic activity, the θεωρόζ was often an official witness to a spectacle, and was required upon his return home to give a verbal account of what he had seen.

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Medium 9780253356857

4. Suicide and Despair

Indiana University Press ePub



There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.


The Sickness unto Death. Already the title indicates a deep affliction with the problem of suicide, although the book is presented as a treatise on the modern self in despair. Suicide is not mentioned until a later stage of the analysis, when Kierkegaard suddenly breaks into a short discussion of how suicide influences despair. Then he admits, albeit in brackets, that this is what the entire investigation is about—in a “more profound” sense. The question of suicide thus seems unavoidable for any reading of The Sickness unto Death, but its significance has, so far, hardly been acknowledged or properly analyzed. In remedying this lack, I see here a chance to approach the entire problem of self and despair once more, from different angles including sociological, cultural, and psychological, as well as theological and philosophical.

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1 Clouds

John Sallis Indiana University Press ePub





Clouds are little more than traces of light. On sunny days when only a few are scattered about the sky, the clouds appear to amplify the light, all the more so if they are of the white, voluminous sort. Because they are hardly distinguishable from the light, it is as if they bestowed their whiteness on the purely white, but invisible, light itself, by this means endowing it with perceptible form, rendering it visible. At dawn and dusk and also when configured in certain ways, they can give the light a variety of shades, letting it reflect the colors assumed by the rising or setting sun. These brilliant colors may, in turn, be reflected across the surface of the sea, endowing the sea with colors quite other than its own, colors that it will retain for some time even after the sun has sunk below the horizon or risen to the height at which it becomes the clear, daytime sun.

Clouds are among the lightest of traces because they are insubstantial; though not quite immaterial, they are perfect semblances of immateriality. They can fill the otherwise invisible air with visibility while simultaneously concealing more substantial things. When surrounded by low-lying clouds in the mountains, we witness such an exchange between the visible and the invisible: the massive stone face of the adjacent mountain recedes from view while the surrounding space garners an opaque visibility. Walking freely, if somewhat blindly, across such a site, passing through patches of unsubstantial cloud without encountering the slightest resistance, we observe that, while it obscures the source of light, the cloud renders the light visible; it provides a visible trace unlike any to be seen in the purely transparent air of a cloudless day.

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May 1970

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

As electromagnetic waves can be employed conceptually as a part of a theory embracing an enormous range of physical phenomena, so I wish to employ the concept of α-elements to embrace an enormous range of mental phenomena.



I shall suppose a mental multi-dimensional space of unthought and unthinkable extent and characteristics. Within this I shall suppose there to be a domain of thoughts that have no thinker. Separated from each other in time, space and style, in a manner that I can formulate only by using analogies taken from astronomy, is the domain of thoughts that have a thinker. This domain is characterized by constellations of α-elements. These constellations compose universes of discourse that are characterized by containing and being contained by terms such as, ‘void’, ‘formless infinite’, ‘god’, ‘infinity’. This sphere I shall name by borrowing the term, ‘noösphere’ from Teilhard de Chardin [The Phenomenon of Man], but as I wish to avoid too great a penumbra of associations, particularly those activated by the term, ‘sphere’, I shall employ a sign that is as devoid of meaning as I can make it (compatible with retention of its capacity for communicability), Σ (sigma).

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Medium 9781576753392

The Language of NO

Gallagher, BJ Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Every group, every community, every organization has its own vocabulary and language. The Land of NO is no exception. Here are some common expressions of negativity. Which ones do you encounter in your daily life?

“That will never work.”

“We’ve tried that before.”

“They’ll never let us do that.”

“Now is not the time.”

“Let’s think about it for a while.”

“It’s too risky.”

“We can’t do that.”

“It will be too much work.”

“There must be a reason why no one has done it before.”

“What evidence do you have that it will work?”

“There must be an easier way.”

“We’re too busy.”

“It’ll never fly.”

“It’s not my job.”

“That’s not the way we do things here.”

“We have other priorities.”

“That’s great, but who’s going do it?”

“Let’s table it for now.”

“Sorry, no budget for it.”

“It’s not my fault . . .”

“That’s not exactly what I had in mind.”

“The last person who tried something like that . . .”

“I like my idea much better.”

“Maybe next year.”

“Yeah, but . . .”

“No way.”

And there are nonverbal NOs, like rolling the eyes, sighing heavily, tapping fingers on the desk, looking at a watch, frowning, scowling, looking exasperated, and so on.

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10. Facts, Fictions, and Faith: What is Really Real after All?

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub


Thus to request the idol-breakers to smash the many mediators of science, in order to reach the real world out there, better and faster, would be a call for barbarism, not for enlightenment. Do we really have to spend another century alternating violently between constructivism and realism, between artificiality and authenticity? Science deserves better than naive worship and naive contempt. Its regime of invisibility is as uplifting as that of religion and art. The subtlety of its traces requires a form of care and attention, a form of spirituality.


Having thus redescribed “objectivity” as a way to think about the world in which we live as if we were dead or never born, let us now take a careful look at the words that have sparked the current critique of continental philosophy—Meillassoux's critique of “correlation” and “fideism,” in that order. This criticism has been set in motion by the theological turn, or the return of religion, which is taken to be a regrettable consequence of continental anti-realism. I think there is something to this critique of fideism but it should be put to better purpose. It should be used to get beyond fideism and to come up with a more worthy idea of “faith,” which I characterize in terms of our desire beyond desire, constituting the heart of a heartless world—and the lesson we learn less from a heartfelt Mary than from a hearty Martha.1

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1 James’s Life: Will to Believe as Affirmation

William J. Gavin Indiana University Press ePub

William James was born on January 11, 1842, in New York City, at the Astor House.1 His father’s father made a great deal of money. Among other things, he invested in the Erie Canal. At one time, he was reputed to be the second-richest person in New York State, after John Jacob Astor. James’s father inherited a considerable amount of this fortune; he also suffered a serious accident, which required that his leg be amputated at the knee. This loss of mobility gave him large amounts of time to dote on the education of his children, the two most famous of whom were William and Henry, although Alice was a formidable figure in her own right. William made the first of many trips to Europe at the age of two. In the 1850s, he attended a private school in New York City, where he impressed his drawing teacher with his natural talent for sketching. During the period 1855–58, he was in London and Paris and attended college in Boulogne-sur-Mer; in 1859, he was at school in Newport, Rhode Island. In 1860, he was at the Academy in Geneva. In 1861, he was back in America, studying painting under William Hunt. James’s father, however, did not approve of art as a vocation. A devotee of Emanuel Swedenborg, he believed that salvation could only be granted en masse, not through individual effort. This was something William could never accept.

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Summary of the Apology of Socrates

Ficino Ficino Shepheard Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd ePub

THE ANCIENT theologians of the races of mankind are divided into three groups. Men in the first group merely sacrificed to daemons, for they lacked faith, I think, that the prayers of men would reach the beings in heaven. Men in the second group, however, worshipped the heavenly beings, believing that these possessed life and intelligence and that, by means of their rays, they looked around upon all things and heard all things, so that they graciously beheld the ceremonies of the sacrifices and hearkened to the praises and prayers of their suppliants. They believed, however, that the prayers of souls living in these bodies on earth were unable to reach those gods that have no dealings with physical bodies.

Men in the third group worshipped these gods above all others, deeming that whatever befalls the human race is fully embraced by the supreme causes through their consciousness and power. But they gave the name of gods to the visible bodies in the heavens as well as to the invisible super-celestial beings which our people call angels and which they themselves think of as the most intimate contemplators and ministers of the supreme God.

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2 March 1969

Wilfred R. Bion Karnac Books ePub

Reading notes again, I feel exasperated by their futility, but I am at least ‘exasperated’ by them. They must therefore have something to them, or they could not exasperate. ‘Exasperated’—feeling of anxiety of ‘theft’ analysis while leaving me open to accusations of plagiarism, etc. This is persecution by the feeling that one's reward in analysis is not success or money or admiration; in short, that there are no rewards corresponding to one's preconceptions. The exasperation is at the ‘note’; consciously, at what it contains. Interpretations occur to me, but for all I know I gave them at the time and I feel no more certain either way. Perhaps the point is that the note has a value, but I have no idea what. Or is it the paranoid–schizoid reaction that I have already described? Ps ↔ D.

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4. Burning Man: The Influence of Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics and the Science of Flow

Dorothea E. Olkowski Indiana University Press ePub

We saw in the previous chapter that for Stengers and Prigogine, questions about the relationship of philosophy to science are closely associated with their understanding of processes that, they claim, no longer appear to be explicable in terms of time or process reversibility. Concepts associated with irreversible processes can, they hope, bridge the divide between spiritual and physical aspects of nature, including human nature. Moving from the study of heat to the conservation of energy, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, linear and nonlinear thermodynamics, self-organization, chaos, dissipative structures, evolution, complexity, open systems, relativity, uncertainty, and finally to temporal evolution in quantum systems leads them to the conclusion that the reversibility of classical dynamics is a characteristic of closed or isolated dynamic systems only, and that science must at least remain open to a pluralistic world in which reversible and irreversible processes coexist.1 For classical dynamics, time was a geometric parameter, and as such this conception was part of a general drive to eliminate temporal evolution, to reduce the different and the changing to the identical and permanent. The proposal that Stengers and Prigogine put forth is that in place of general, all-embracing schemes that could be expressed by eternal laws, there is time. In place of symmetry, there are symmetry-breaking processes on all levels. Moreover, they claim, time irreversibility can be the unifying source of order on all levels. Among philosophers who engaged with the sciences, can we not find philosophical precedents for these ideas?

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Medium 9780856832574

Sixth Book of Laws

Arthur Farndell Shepheard-Walwyn ePub
Medium 9780253015518

3. Art Forms

Figal, Günter Indiana University Press ePub

One is acquainted in general with the forms in which art shows and shows itself. One encounters them along with artworks, and they seem tangible inasmuch as artworks fit into various genres. These allocations happen as if on their own. They arise as soon as one speaks and reflects about artworks. One can only determine what artworks are in any detailed sense by allocating them to a form. By calling a work a poetic piece, an image, or a piece of music, one is giving a formal designation.

It is easy to see that these genre designations are fairly unspecific. They can be further differentiated and supplemented by other designations. With differentiation in mind, instead of speaking of poetic works in a general sense, one would distinguish stories, poems, and plays. An image can be a painting, a drawing, or a photograph; a piece of music is a song, a symphony, an opera. In terms of supplementation, one would have to take sculpture, buildings, dance, and even tea bowls into consideration.

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