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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Self and Substance in Leibniz by Marc Elliott Bobro (Kluwer Academic Publishers) We are omniscient but confused, says Leibniz. He also says that we live in the best of all possible worlds, yet do not causally interact. So what are we? Leibniz is known for many things, including the ideality of space and time, calculus, plans for a universal language, theodicy, and ecumenism. But he is not known for his ideas on the self and personal identity. This book shows that Leibniz offers an original, internally coherent theory of personal identity, a theory that stands on its own even next to Locke's contemporaneous and more famous version. This book will appeal not only to students of Leibniz's thought but also to philosophers and psychologists interested in methodological problems in understanding or formulating theories of self and personal identity. More

Sensing Corporeally: Toward a Posthuman Understanding by Floyd Merrell (Toronto Studies in Semiotics and Communication Series: University of Toronto Press) In Sensing Corporeally, Floyd Merrell argues that human sensation and cog­nition should be thought of in terms of continually changing ‘signs’ that can be accounted for with reference to topological forms. This book swims against the current of linear, mechanical, quantitative, dualistic, Boolean logical and rational thinking, by submerging itself in the flow of nonlinear, organic, qualitative feeling and sensing and thinking. It draws heavily from qualitative and analogical feeling and sensing rather than quantita­tive and digital reasoning. It does this through continuous topological drifts and folds rather than discontinuous breaks and crisp lines of demarcation.   More

Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit: New Critical Essays edited by Alfred Denker, Michael Vater (Humanity Books)  Hegel's first major philosophical work is one of philosophy's true masterpieces. Despite its notorious difficulty, it is one of the most influential philosophical works ever written. The Phenomenology is not only the first presentation of Hegel's system; it is also an account of the historical develop­ment of Geist (spirit or mind) from Greek tragedy to the triumph of philosophy as science in Hegel's own time.

Hegel's Phenomenology has had a sustained and central place in the American study of the philosopher. These essays show that there are still many fresh insights available in considering Hegel’s first mature philosophic work. This reviewer would hope that the somewhat neglected Logic would also begin to attact extensive commentary as it refines the logic and paradoxes of self-consciousness and represents a fuller systematic presentation of Hegel’s later work in a way the  Phenomenology does not. More

The Impact on Philosophy of Semiotics: The Quasi-Error of the External World With a Dialogue Between a 'Semiotist' and a 'Realist by John N. Deely (St. Augustine's Press) is a reformulation of philosophy within the light of semiotics as well as a realist critique of semiotic practice. It begins as a coherent argument about the meaning of the term "postmodern" as it applies to philosophy at the opening of the twenty-first century. Deely makes the case that the twentieth-century development of the doctrine of signs, commonly known as semiotics, represents the positive essential thrust giving birth to a postmodern era of philosophy, as clean a break with modern thought as modern thought was with Latin scholasticism in the time of Galileo, Poinsot, and Descartes - but with a difference. Contrary to what the author dismisses as false claims of Postmodernity, the work shows that what is truly postmodern in philosophy both goes beyond modernity and recovers philosophy's past in a renewed understanding of the human condition. The "problem of the external world," which modern philosophy began by creating, postmodern philosophy begins by revealing as a quasi-error. The book concludes with a philosophical dialogue revealing the inadequacy to the postmodern situation of a simple return to any past form of "realism," and explaining Why the postmod­ern situation calls for a new definition of human being as "the semiotic animal" Deely work is a useful and balanced Thomistic realist account of current trends in philosophy.
John Deely is Professor of philosophy at the Center for Thomistic Studies of the University of St. Thomas ( Houston ), and author of numerous works on philosophy and semiotics, most recently The Four Ages of Understanding, and, from St. Augustine 's Press, What Distinguishes Human Understanding. More

Knowledge of Things Human and Divine: Vico's New Science and Finnegan's Wake by Donald Phillip Verene (Yale University Press) is the first book to examine rather extensively the interconnections between Giambattista Vico's New Science and James Joyce's Finnegans Wake. Maintaining that Joyce is the greatest modern "interpreter" of Vico, Donald Phillip Verene demonstrates how images from Joyce's work offer keys to Vico's philosophy. More a general introduction to the enterprise of Vico, Verene presents the entire course of Vico's philosophical thought as it develops in his major works, with Joyce's words and insights serving as commentator here and there. Knowledge of Things Human and Divine devotes a chapter to each period of Vico's thought, from his early orations on education to his anti-Cartesian metaphysics and his conception of universal law, culminating in his new science of the history of nations. Verene analyzes Vico's major works, including all three editions of the New Science. The volume also features a detailed chronology of the philosopher's career, historical illustrations related to his works, and an extensive bibliography of Vico scholarship and all English translations of his writings.  More see also Joyce

Classic Philosophical Questions, 11th Edition edited by James A. Gould, Robert J. Mulvaney (Prentice Hall) A proven classic, this anthology stimulates readers' interest in philosophy through an innovative “sides of the argument” presentation, representing positions on each of the fundamental philosophical principles. Each reading contains a biographical sketch of the author, with a group of further readings for those wishing to pursue issues in further depth. Using debate and argument as a vehicle, the eleventh edition of Classic Philosophical Questions simultaneously gives readers the fundamentals of philosophy while demonstrating that philosophy is a discourse that has spanned centuries. Topics covered include knowledge, metaphysics, religion, ethics, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and the meaning of life. This anthology offers both classic and contemporary selections that challenge readers with the basic inquiries that philosophers have discussed throughout the ages. More

Deflating Existential Consequence: A Case for Nominalism by Jody Azzouni (Oxford University Press) If we must take mathematical statements to be true, must we also believe in the existence of abstracter--eternal invisible mathematical objects accessible only by the power of pure thought? Jody Azzouni says no, and he claims that the way to escape such commitments is to accept (as an essential part of scientific doctrine) true statements which are "about" objects that don't exist in any sense at all. More

Self, Reality and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy: Tsongkhapa’s Quest for the Middle Way by Thupten Jinpa (Routledge Curzon) It is said that when Tsongkhapa (1357-1419), Tibet's foremost religious reformer and one of its greatest philosophers, finally arrived at the perfect “middle view,” he experienced a powerful surge of admiration and devotion for the Buddha. This combination of deep reverence and insight, together with a profound sense of joy, that followed this breakthrough in Tsongkhapa's philosophical thinking inspired him to compose one of the most eloquent praises to the Buddha ever written in Tibetan? In perfectly metered poetry, Tsongkhapa celebrates the Buddha's teachings on the principle of dependent origination and expresses his deep appreciation to the Buddha for having taught this profound truth. At the heart of Tsongkhapa's inner exultation is also a sense of wonder and amazement at the convergence between what appear to be two contradictory natures of things ‑ their lack of intrinsic existence on the one hand, and their coming into being by means of dependent origination on the other. This study seeks to articulate, as far as is possible in contemporary language, Tsongkhapa's insight into this profound Middle Way. More


Turning: From Persuasion to Philosophy: A Reading of Homer's Iliad by Michael Naas (Philosophy and Literary Theory Series: Humanity Books) A major desconstructive reading of Homer's Iliad by the well-known translator of Derrida and Lyotard. Within the brief compass of a single sentence, Eduard Zeller once mapped the extremities of the axis around which a long tradition of thought revolves: "Homer and philosophy -- these are the two poles between which the world of Greek thought rotates" (25). Zeller observes that Homeric poetry and Greek philosophy emerge from the same site, "the other side of the Aegean Sea ." But in relation to each other, the two remain widely distant and are purposefully set at opposite poles. By long-established tradition we take our bearings from this polarization: it ensures us safe passage and sure trajectory as we trace our courses within and across the space of the irreducible distance between these two fixed points of the turning world. And yet there are times when this movement is temporarily arrested by the possibility of a different reading of the structure of this world, its assumed axes and axioms. Zeller concludes with the observation that "we should not overlook the fact that [the Homeric poems] contain much reflection on the world and life."


Deduction: Introductory Symbolic Logic, 2nd Edition by Daniel Bonevac (Blackwell) Near the end of the eighteenth century, Immanuel Kant wrote that logic was a closed and completed subject, to which nothing significant had been contributed since the time of Aristotle and to which nothing significant remained to be contributed. Many logic students today receive a similar impression from their introductory logic courses, except that Russell and Whitehead have assumed the venerated position that Aristotle held in Kant's time. More  


The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness by Virginia Postrel (HarperCollins) Celebrated trend-spotter, social critic, and New York Times columnist Virginia Postrel turns her razor-sharp eye toward a major new trend this fall: the triumph of style in American life in The Substance of Style. Postrel persuasively argues that aesthetics - the look and feel of people, places, and things - is increasingly essential as a source of value, both economic and cultural. Citing examples that invade nearly every aspect of our lives-from fashion to real estate, and design to economics---Postrel proves that in order to remain competitive in any forum, be it business or pleasure, we have to make the right decisions based upon our sensory experiences.   More

The Substance of Style: How the Rise of Aesthetic Value Is Remaking Commerce, Culture, and Consciousness by Virginia Postrel (HarperCollins) Celebrated trend-spotter, social critic, and New York Times columnist Virginia Postrel turns her razor-sharp eye toward a major new trend this fall: the triumph of style in American life in The Substance of Style. Postrel persuasively argues that aesthetics - the look and feel of people, places, and things - is increasingly essential as a source of value, both economic and cultural. Citing examples that invade nearly every aspect of our lives-from fashion to real estate, and design to economics---Postrel proves that in order to remain competitive in any forum, be it business or pleasure, we have to make the right decisions based upon our sensory experiences.  More

Humanism and the Humanities in the Twenty-First Century by William S. Haney and Peter Malekin (Bucknell University Press) The purpose of the book is to raise questions about the underlying paradigms of contemporary learning and social thinking, including the nature of con­sciousness and the mind, the purpose and conduct of education, the role of science and scientific methodologies, the place of art and literature, our relationship to the environment, our concepts of spirituality, our attitudes to the past and also what we are doing to our own future. It therefore deliberately breaks with established dis­courses and undermines current notions of the expert and the specialist. More

Twentieth-Century Western Philosophy of Religion 1900-2000 by Eugene Thomas Long (Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion, Volume 1: Kluwer Academic) provides in one volume a map of one hundred years of twentieth-century western philosophy of religion. Divided into four divisions approximating four chronological periods, the book begins at the turn of the twentieth-century with Absolute Idealism, Personal Idealism, Neo-Kantianism, Positivism and the Science of Religion. The period between the two world wars includes discussions of Neo-Realism, Phenomenology, American Pragmatism, Personalism and the Philosophy of History. The primary strands of philosophy of religion after mid-century are Philosophical Analysis, Existential Philosophy, Neo-Thomism and Process Philosophy. More

The Liar's Tale: A History of Falsehood by Jeremy Campbell (W.W. Norton) A bold new exploration of ethics and philosophy, The Liar's Tale extols the benefits of falsehood. Fireflies find mates by duping rivals with patterns of deceptive flashes. Politicians win elections by distorting statistics and telling half-truths. The devices of falsehood, whether simple exaggeration, pretense, or barefaced lies; are hard to resist and easy to employ. Now, in a provocative work that turns Sissela Bok's Lying on its head, Jeremy Campbell presents a daring inquiry into the nature of deception. With insight into rhetoric, language, and the sciences, Campbell launches his discussion with Darwin and evolutionary biology, and from there builds a foundation of philosophical evidence that is both counterintuitive and highly engaging. We encounter the purism of the ancients and their battles with the Sophists, the many faces of falsehood decried by Montaigne, the dark ethos of Kant and Nietzsche, and the reckless shift made by Derrida and the postmodernists favoring "meaning" at the expense of truth. Unsettling and highly original, The Liar's Tale is sure to provoke a new debate about truth and ethics. More


Epistemic Justification: Internalism Vs. Externalism, Foundations Vs. Virtues by Ernest Sosa, Laurence Bonjour (Great Debates in Philosophy: Blackwell) Epistemology is the theory of episteme, of knowledge. Ever since Plato it has been thought that one knows only if one's belief hits the mark of truth and does so with adequate justification. The issues debated by Laurence Bonjour and Ernest Sosa concern mostly the nature and conditions of such epistemic justification, and its place in our understanding of human knowledge. More


Media Semiotics: An Introduction by Jonathan Bignell (Manchester University Press) is a lucid investigation of the critical approach in contemporary media studies. Using examples such as Big Brother and Billy Elliot, Jonathan Bignell steps easily from basic concepts to more complex theories, while devoting chapters to specific media forms. New material in this second edition includes sections on men's style magazines, docusoaps and "realityTV", digital interactive television, and mobile phone text messaging. Introductory. More


A Companion to Early Modern Philosophy by Steven M. Nadler (Blackwell Companions to Philosophy: Blackwell) is a comprehensive guide to the most significant philosophers and philosophical concepts of seventeenth‑ and eighteenth‑century Europe . The individual chapters, written by leading scholars in the field, represent the most up-to-date research in the history of early modern philosophy.
These newly commissioned essays span a wide range of philosophical areas and problems, including metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. Each presents a general overview of the thought of each figure and provides the reader with an accessible but sophisticated account of the philosopher's basic ideas. More

Nietzsche, Godfather of Fascism? On the Uses and Abuses of a Philosophy edited by Jacob Golomb and Robert S. Wistrich (Princeton University Press) (HARDCOVER) What can Nietzsche have in common with this murderous ideology? Frequently described as the "radical aristocrat" of the spirit, Nietzsche abhorred mass culture and strove to cultivate an Ubermensch endowed with exceptional mental qualities. What can such a thinker have in common with the fascistic manipulation of the masses for chauvinistic goals that crushed the autonomy of the individual?
The question that lies at the heart of this collection is how Nietzsche came to acquire the deadly "honor" of being considered the philosopher of the Third Reich and whether such claims had any justification. Does it make any sense to hold him in some way responsible for the horrors of Auschwitz ? More


The Philosopher's Index Thesaurus, Revised 2nd edition by Kelly M. Broughton ( Philosophy Documentation Center ) is a print guide to the major indexing categories to the online The Philosopher's Index database includes more than 200,000 citations to philosophy articles, books, and contributions to anthologies published since 1940. The data­base covers English language journal articles and books published since 1940, non‑English journal articles published since 1967, and non‑English books published since 1980. More


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