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4. Delimitations . . . of Dussel’s Philosophy of Liberation and Beyond

Alejandro Arturo Vallega Indiana University Press ePub

Hay que tomar una postura crítica que nos ayude a hacer una transformación con lo que tenemos.

We must take a critical position that will help us to bring forth a transformation with what we have.

—Enrique Dussel, 2009

Throughout our discussions so far one pressing issue becomes evident as the driving concern behind Latin American thought: the concern with engaging concrete, living Latin American existence. As Dussel points out, it is ultimately life that calls for thought’s liberation. In this chapter I discuss some of the main critiques of Dussel’s thought, all of which are driven by this same concern. As we will see, these critical approaches will raise the question of how to engage the concrete and diverse singularities that compose the general fields Dussel has strategically outlined. What is put in question is the way thought situates itself and the kinds of thinking that are involved in the attempt to engage Latin America’s distinct existence. In her book Cultural Identity and Social Liberation in Latin American Thought, Ofelia Schutte criticizes Dussel’s thinking for failing to engage the singularity implied in the radical exteriority of his philosophy of liberation.1 As Schutte sees it, in Dussel’s work singularity becomes a general concept and a matter of conceptual rather than engaged comprehension. Her critique follows an earlier criticism raised by Horacio Cerutti Guldberg in 1977 (the same year as the publication of Dussel’s Philosophy of Liberation) in his book Filosofía de la liberación latinoamericana (Philosophy of Latin American Liberation).2 For Cerutti Guldberg, Dussel’s discourse arises in a populist tone that risks repeating the totalitarian history that accompanies the colonialism and dependency sustained in Latin America, and it does so by remaining wedded to a general and ultimately unquestioning way of thinking the question of liberation. In this chapter I begin by discussing both critiques in order to open some questions that will lead us to ask more substantially about the extent to which Dussel’s own thinking engages the radical exteriority to which he exposes philosophy in his Philosophy of Liberation in 1977. As we will see, both Cerutti Guldberg and Schutte point to a fundamental ambiguity in Dussel’s thought: On the one hand, Dussel begins from the phenomenological experience of radical exteriority before rational discourse. If one follows Dussel’s original insight in his Philosophy of Liberation, then analectical thinking should occur not only from other places (the geopolitical point) but in ways that no longer repeat Western modern rational justifications, concepts, and ways of comprehending the other, at least by putting these ways of thinking into question.3 On the other hand, however, Dussel’s thought ultimately takes the form of traditional rational arguments, seeking to speak the language of the center for the sake of gaining recognition for the excluded and the oppressed. This is a complicated issue, since it involves Dussel’s understanding of rationality in a manner broader than the modern Western tradition but requires as well that one clarify the way Dussel’s own thinking situates him with respect to the knowledge and forms of lives of the excluded. It is neither Dussel’s momentous insight nor his intention that is in question but his turn from phenomenology and its later forms in deconstruction to a logical and pragmatic approach to the question of radical exteriority. Thus, rather than questioning Dussel’s philosophical accomplishment, that is, his opening of a previously unthought space for a philosophy from below, the following discussion wants to mark the delimitation of Dussel’s thought and thereby the path toward taking his insight further.4 At the same time, this discussion opens the question of how to understand rationality and philosophical thought in ways that go beyond Westernizing instrumental rationalism. Behind this last issue is the question of the extent to which Dussel is limited in his possible engagement of the aesthetic dimension of liberation. The broader sense of rationality and of philosophy beyond its rationalist constraints, and the path toward aesthetics of liberation, are developed in diverse ways in part 3 of this book, where various distinct manners of thinking in radical exteriority are articulated.

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The Good of Activity from Human Nature and Conduct(1922)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

Conduct when distributed under heads like habit, impulse and intelligence gets artificially shredded. In discussing each of these topics we have run into the others. We conclude, then, with an attempt to gather together some outstanding considerations about conduct as a whole.

The foremost conclusion is that morals has to do with all activity into which alternative possibilities enter. For wherever they enter a difference between better and worse arises. Reflection upon action means uncertainty and consequent need of decision as to which course is better. The better is the good; the best is not better than the good but is simply the discovered good. Comparative and superlative degrees are only paths to the positive degree of action. The worse or evil is a rejected good. In deliberation and before choice no evil presents itself as evil. Until it is rejected, it is a competing good. After rejection, it figures not as a lesser good, but as the bad of that situation.

Actually then only deliberate action, conduct into which reflective choice enters, is distinctively moral, for only then does there enter the question of better and worse. Yet it is a perilous error to draw a hard and fast line between action into which deliberation and choice enter and activity due to impulse and matter-of-fact habit. One of the consequences of action is to involve us in predicaments where we have to reflect upon things formerly done as matter of course. One of the chief problems of our dealings with others is to induce them to reflect upon affairs which they usually perform from unreflective habit. On the other hand, every reflective choice tends to relegate some conscious issue into a deed or habit henceforth taken for granted and not thought upon. Potentially therefore every and any act is within the scope of morals, being a candidate for possible judgment with respect to its better-or-worse quality. It thus becomes one of the most perplexing problems of reflection to discover just how far to carry it, what to bring under examination and what to leave to unscrutinized habit. Because there is no final recipe by which to decide this question all moral judgment is experimental and subject to revision by its issue.

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7 “Pure” versus “Impure” Experience: Examples of Pure Experience

William J. Gavin Indiana University Press ePub

The question of the availability of pure experience leads directly to the issue of language and to James’s ambivalence about language. The question of the availability of pure experience also constitutes the latent content of Essays in Radical Empiricism (ERE) and A Pluralistic Universe (PU). Let us take up the issue of language first. There actually exist two different views on language in the Jamesian texts. One of these is disparaging toward language, but the second is more positive in nature.

The first position is the one most readily identified with James, and it is scattered throughout his works. In The Principles of Psychology (PP), for example, he states that

language works against our perception of the truth. We name our thoughts simply, each after its thing, as if each knew its own thing and nothing else. What each really knows is clearly the thing it is named for, with dimly perhaps a thousand other things.1

Here James argues that we take language too much for granted. We all assume that each word has one meaning and that, when the word is used in “x” number of sentences, the meaning is the same. Language so taken, he asserts, is inadequate to the substantive and transitive parts of the stream of consciousness. The sheer inadequacy of language to describe the nuances of the stream is brought out by James in PP. Having asserted that relations between things are real, both in the existent order of events and in the stream of consciousness, he continues,

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Four: Transcendental Reflection: Interpreting the Amphiboly via §76 of the Critique of Judgment

Avery Goldman Indiana University Press ePub


Transcendental Reflection:
Interpreting the Amphiboly via
§ 76 of the
Critique of Judgment

I. Transcendental Reflection

Having demonstrated the need for an explanation of the conception of experience with which Kant's analysis begins, we must now pursue such a question within the confines of the Critique of Pure Reason if we are to avoid claiming that Kant was initially blind to the presuppositions of the critical enterprise. In §76 of the Critique of Judgment, Kant announces the possibility of addressing the critical conception of possible experience, but it is not clear that such an account can be located in the epistemological structure of the first Critique. Those who have interpreted the Critique of Judgment as initiating great changes in the critical project argue that such a search is pointless.1 They appear to have support in that the only section that develops the claim that critical epistemology depends upon something beyond its finite limits is the Refutation of Idealism; and the ambiguity of its conclusion seems to raise the possibility that even in 1787, with the inclusion of this section in the second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason, and certainly in 1781, with the work's original publication, Kant did not conceive of the regulative dependence of the critical analysis of cognition.

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55. Review of Pearson’s The Grammar of Science

Charles S. Peirce Indiana University Press PDF


Review of Pearson’s

The Grammar of Science

7 July 1892

Houghton Library

The Grammar of Science. By Karl Pearson, M.A., Sir Thomas

Gresham’s Professor of Geometry. [The Contemporary Science

Series.] Imported by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1892.

The title of this book hardly prepares the reader for its real nature. It is an attempt to elucidate, in an original train of thought, what amounts, generically speaking, to Kantian nominalism, and to show its applicability to contemporary scientific problems. Although the metaphysical doctrine from which it proceeds is all but exploded, and rests upon an inaccurate psychology and an uncritical logic, in our opinion, yet it must be conceded that the book is one of considerable power, and contains matter for salutary reflection for anybody who cares to think deeply.

“The object of the present work,” says the author, “is to insist that science is in reality a classification and analysis of the contents of the mind.” This suggests that investigation consists in first collecting one’s facts, and then locking one’s laboratory door and retiring to one’s study to work out one’s theories; whereas, in truth, it involves experimentation alternately with things and with the diagrams of things. The realist will hold that this alternation is helpful, because the reason within us and the reason in nature are essentially at one; while the conceptualist will wish to separate his facts and theories as much as possible. He holds that any uniformity or law of nature is, as Prof. Pearson says, a mere “product of the perceptive faculty.” Newton’s great work was “not so much the discovery as the creation of the law of gravitation”; and the force of gravity, because it is a concept, not a percept, has no reality.

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