Zero Sum or Principles? by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Zero Sum or Principles?
Abstract: If we refuse to accept materialistic reductionism that makes our social lives exhaustively the product of capricious genetics, the amygdala, and chemicals in the brain like oxytocin, we are the species that can ask what we should do. By playing a zero sum game, one knows who “won” whereas acting on principle gives one the satisfaction that one tried to do more than “win.” However, here it is claimed that the alternative of a zero sum game and principles represents not an exclusive dyad as if one can pursue one of the options only by exclusion of the other. Both are symptomatic of humanity’s “radical” evil and “radical” goodness. We can pursue one or the other only because we have the capacity to do both. Hence, deeper than decline, progress, or stagnation is an understanding of humanity as the source of a causal efficacy that is not reducible to physical causality and, therefore, this suggests that with humanity we find in degree an “openness” in nature that allows for creative change while demanding assumption of moral responsibility for the exercise of humanity’s creative power.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en_US.
The following paper was presented at at the Society for Ricoeur Studies at the University of Oregon, October 27, 2013
PDF Version: What is ‘Radical’ Evil? A Reading of Ricoeur on Kant and Religion
What is ‘Radical’ Evil?
A Reading of Ricoeur on Kant and Religion
What follows I can best describe as a “lover’s quarrel” anchored, for my part, in deep gratitude and respect. On the one hand, I will strenuously critique Ricoeur’s reading of Kant, particularly with respect to 1) the ontological status of “radical” evil, 2) the anchoring of morality in violence, 3) Ricoeur’s “deliberative,” hence, consequentialist ethic, and 4) his limiting of religion to historical religion. On the other hand, the “ontology” of his theory of metaphor as well as the centrality of the “productive imagination” in his theory of discourse are applauded vigorously and can be viewed as thoroughly in harmony with the “ground” of Kant’s ethical reflections, “autonomous freedom,” which will be proposed as a more comprehensive “ground” for morality, and a more adequate “ground” for understanding of religion.
Reflections on the Symbol: A Quasi-Transcendental Assumption that “Gives Rise to Thought”
I begin my investigation of Ricoeur’s reading of Kant by examining the notion of “symbol.” I will seek to demonstrate that the pre-figuration, which is the symbolic for Ricoeur, functions in a quasi-transcendental sense that makes symbols a posteriori synthetic judgments and, therefore, hypothetical, not, as for Kant, a priori synthetic judgments that are categorical (I will speak to the difference between a posteriori and a priori synthetic judgment below).
On Martha Nussbaum’s Reading of Kant by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
On Martha Nussbaum’s Reading of Kant: Aristotelian Teleology Meets Kantian Archaeology
The following is an email that was sent to Herman Waetjen, Emeritus Professor of the San Francisco Theological Seminary and Berkeley’s GTU. During a recent visit with him in San Anselmo, Herman shared with me passages from Martha Nussbaum’s Frontiers of Justice that offer her reading of Kant on reason, morality, and humanity’s responsibilities to nature, other species, and the physically and mentally challenged. Herman had written a paper on “The Theology of Animals” for the Spring 2016 meeting of the Pacific Coast Theological Society meeting. His paper is available on-line at the PCTS webpage. This email provides my response to what I take to be a serious but, unfortunately, all too frequent “mis-reading” of Kant. To be sure, every reading of a text is an interpretation, but that fact is no license to generate any whimsical reading that serves one’s purposes in the moment. As Paul Ricoeur proposed: A good reading is congruent with the text and generates a plenitude of rich meaning. A poor reading is narrow and far-fetched. In my judgment, Martha Nussbaum’s reading of Kant is incredibly narrow and far-fetched, even if there are powerful voices in the academy today who share her reading.