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Autumn 2007

No. 36, Autumn 2007
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Papers
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DISPLACEMENT OF NATURE INTO SOCIETY: ROUSSEAU BETWEEN SPINOZA AND KANT, Dr Vasiliki Grigoropoulou – University of Athens.
This paper examines the sources of Rousseau’s anthropology. In his Discourse on Inequality, natural independence is grounded in the concept of ‘Love of oneself’ (amour de soi). The resources required to ground Rousseauean ‘Love of oneself’ can be found in Spinoza’s concept of ‘endeavour’ (conatus). It is argued that this concept is a revealing key for the interpretation of the immanent positivity of Rousseauean nature. However, in Rousseau’s concept of “general will” – anticipated in the Second Discourse, and developed in On the Social Contract (1762) – natural effort is out-manoeuvred by moral and political art. There emerges a new subject and a redefinition of the natural in moral and political terms. Rousseau’s conception of moral and political autonomy influenced Immanuel Kant, whose views are generally taken to be opposed fundamentally to those of Spinoza. Thus Rousseau can be said to have built a bridge from the naturalism of ‘Love of oneself’ which grounds natural independence in the Second Discourse to the moral and political autonomy that would become centrally important for Kant.
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A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF SOBLE’S ACCOUNT OF MASTURBATION, Aaron Robinson – University of Durham.
This paper argues that we ought to give more consideration to the ethics of sexual fantasy than previous writers on sex have done so. Alan Soble’s paper on masturbation is a great example of this. Soble begins and closes his paper on masturbation with a quote from Rousseau which states that sexual fantasy is little different from rape. This is confusing, since Soble’s definition of masturbation requires a physical cause, and so it is not clear that Rousseau’s quote implies masturbation as Soble understands it. This leads to Soble misusing Rousseau to argue that masturbation when constructed through pornography may be wrong, when detailed reading of Rousseau’s comment implies the opposite. This paper further takes up part of Rousseau’s neglected quote and develops it to suggest that sexual fantasy itself is sufficient as a definition of masturbation, provided there exists an intention to cause corresponding sexual pleasure.
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HOW OBSOLETE IS ARISTOTLE’S VIEW ON THE SOUL?, Andrei G. Zavaliy – Hunter College, CUNY.
I am interested in placing Aristotle’s discussion of the soul in De Anima in historical context, arguing that the philosophical terrain within which he developed his own theory is not radically different from that of our own time. As we can gather from historical overview of Book I, Aristotle faces essentially the same challenges and choices in the field of philosophical psychology as the moderns do. As such, he stands firmly within the mainstream philosophical development, and presents a genuine alternative to the dominant theories of mind. I defend this thesis against a misrepresentation of Aristotle’s view which suggests that the ‘traditional’ views on the nature of mind are not even intelligible given Aristotle’s peculiar presuppositions and his limited stock of concepts. This, if true, would make Aristotle’s psychology fully ‘superseded’ by later developments, in the same manner as his physics was ‘superseded’ by the subsequent progress in natural sciences. Against this I argue that the central notions of De Anima (e.g., ‘matter’, ‘mental’, ‘soul’), when properly understood, are quite ‘commensurable’ with any modern post-Cartesian theory.
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Reviews
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Matthew Bennett – Natural Goodness.
Stephanie Eichberg – Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering.
Claire Graham – The Subject’s Point of View.
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