2000: Summaries

Contents (in Dutch)

Th. Baumeister
Summary: Self-awareness - Self-portrait
This paper elucidates some aspects of the relationship between self-consciousness and self-portraiture. Is starts from Sartre’s analysis of the experience of our own body and from the supposed dependence of our own self-consciousness on the intervention of the other. Making use of Derrida’s reflections in Mémoires d’aveugle and Joseph L. Koerner’s reading of German Renaissance self-portraiture, the author describes Dürer’s Munich self-portrait and some of Rembrandt’s late self-portraits. Dürer’s painting is understood as an attempt to close the circle of self-reflection, while trying to include the other in his scenario of representation of himself as a kind of divine and timeless entity. Rembrandt’s late self-portraits in contrast serve to show another possibility of self-representation: a form of self-awareness and self-affirmation in the face of human finitude and the effects of time on human beings.

R. Breeur
Summary: Liberty and Identity
This article questions the origin of subjectivity and its identity in its relation to consciousness, since consciousness, in its essence, is not yet subjective. It is characterized by a self-presence that is so radical that it threatens every form of self-knowledge and self-consciousness. We therefore want to point to a difference between self-knowledge of the subject and the way an act of consciousness is conscious of itself. Every act of consciousness is self-conscious and therefore consciousness is absolute. In the article we search for the origin of subjectivity in a consciousness that is characterized by its radical lucidity. The idea that an opacity (passivity, etc.) would contaminate the absoluteness of consciousness rests on a curious confusion of the self of consciousness and the self of an ego or the subject. The fact that my self-knowledge is not entirely transparent or clear and distinct, does not say anything about the clarity and distinctness of self-consciousness itself.

F. Buekens
Summary: Love ‘de re’. On Singular Emotions
In this paper the author argues that love de re - love for a particular person - is an emotion that is singular in that the beloved person is an external constituent of that emotion. After comparing love de re with other de re attitudes, and distinguishing it from love de dicto, he rejects reductions of love de re to love de dicto. Still, it will be demonstrated the lover must have a dynamic conception of the person he loves which is derived from historical connections with him or her. A merely causal link is not enough. The way the beloved person appears to the lover cannot be reduced to an antecedently available picture or assembly of properties the lover appreciates, as cognitivists tend to claim. The theoretical background of the paper draws on insights of G. Evans and J. McDowell.

A. Burms
Summary: The Moral Status of Animals
The current debate about the moral status of animals is strongly determined by a misunderstanding of the role of moral intuitions. It is often assumed that our moral intuitions contain an implicit understanding of something that could ideally always be made explicit in terms of a consistent set of general principles. I have argued that this assumption is certainly wrong with respect to our moral intuitions about how we should behave towards animals. The meaning of these intuitions will always be intimately tied up with deeply ingrained attitudes which precede the endorsement of any explicit moral view. While it cannot be excluded that these attitudes might radically change, it is wrong to suppose that such a transformation could result from abstract reasoning.

St. R. L. Clark
Summary: The Cosmic Priority of Value
Adam Sedgwick’s complaint that Darwin’s rejection of final causes indicated a “demoralized understanding” cannot easily be dismissed: if nothing happens because it should, our opinions about what is morally beautiful are no more than projections. Darwin was carrying out an Enlightenment project - to exclude final causes or God’s purposes from science because we could not expect to know what they were. That abandonment of final causes was an episode in religious history, a reaction against complacent idolatry, an attempt to purify the soul. By not moralizing the universe we were to be released to see the beauty in all its parts, and in the whole, and so to acknowledge our own selves as fragments or facets of a cosmos whose value transcends our petty purposes. Unfortunately, later thinkers, forgetful of the priority of value (both in human life and in the universe at large), supposed that merely material causes could and (weirdly) should explain away the very recognition of value which drives us and the world. If Darwin had been right - if we value what we do solely because our ancestors somehow outbred their cousins - there could be no authority in science, nor any real distinction between savages and sages (except, no doubt, that savages have more descendants). If he is wrong, then the way is open to consider that archetypes and values, as partial realizations of the single, simple, transcendent One, have had an effect on Nature as well as on our attitudes. The ‘moral’, so to speak, is always breaking in on the ‘material’, and always losing its way, to be renewed again. The real explanation of the world’s existence, and of life’s, is that God wills it so. This does not enable us to predict what else He wills, any more than Darwinian theory itself can actually predict in anything but the broadest, emptiest of terms. Without an appeal to that, broadly Platonic, picture there can be no genuine explanation of the world’s variety, nor any duty to seek one.

S. E. Cuypers
Summary: Compatible Personal Autonomy: Structuralism versus Historicism
How is personal autonomy possible, given the biological, psychological and social determination of the person? Within compatibilism this question has got a twofold answer: the answer of structuralism on the one hand and the competing answer of historicism on the other. In this article, I first illustrate the internal compatibilist debate by means of the structuralism of Harry Frankfurt and the historicism of Jon Elster. The central question of this controversy is whether personal autonomy can be analysed in terms of structural conditions (mental hierarchy) alone, i.e. without any further appeal to historical conditions (appropriate causal origin and genesis). Thereafter I critically discuss two main problems in connection with the central controversial question: the problem of illegitimate causal influence which troubles historicism and the problem of manipulation which troubles structuralism. On the basis of my discussion I finally conclude that neither of the two compatibilist positions are satisfactory and that incompatibilist intuitions and theories about personal autonomy inevitably come to the fore again.

I. Douven
Summary: The Empirical Test of Inductive Logics
Inductive logics purport to specify, for any given hypothesis and any given evidence statement, whether and, if so, to what extent the evidence statement should bear on our confidence that the hypothesis is true. If we agree that there can only be one true answer to questions of this sort, then the project of inductive logic faces a serious difficulty, namely that the many different systems that have been proposed in the literature rarely reach an unanimous verdict. In this paper I investigate the possibility of settling empirically the question which of all the extant inductive logics is the correct one, or, if the correct inductive logic should still await formulation, which of the extant inductive logics is the least incorrect. My main point will be that the fact that empirical investigation of inductive logics necessarily requires the use of some inductive logic at the metalevel does not render the whole project futile. I also discuss and eventually dismiss some well-known Bayesian arguments to the effect that the debate about the correct inductive logic can be settled on a priori grounds and has in fact been settled in favour of Bayesianism.

W. Jaeschke
Summary: Substance and Subject
In the modern history of philosophy, the two concepts of “substance” and “subject” play an important role. Their meaning and their relationship, however, are conceived in a manifold way. In the beginning of th 19th century, Descartes is regarded as the inaugurator of modern philosophy and of philosophy of subjectivity, because he makes the “subject” the fundamental basis of philosophy. He is not concerned with clarifying the structure of the “subject”, but is interpreting the “subject” as “substance”, i.e., the eternal and immortal substance of the soul. Kant, on the other hand, purifies the “subject” from its Cartesian substantiality, but conceives of the “subject” only as a logical principle of synthesis, as the intellectual representation of spontaneous activity. Hegel’s philosophy is often regarded as a “philosophy of subjectivity” and therefore in line with Kant’s, but it is “philosophy of subjectivity” in an entirely different way: for Hegel, as for Spinoza, “substance” means actuality as a whole, and to conceive this “substance” as “subject” means to grasp the internal structure of actuality as the structure of subjectivity: as activity, as the teleological movement of becoming itself, as realization of knowing itself in its highest forms: in art, religion and philosophy.

T. Kortooms
Summary: The Self-Constitution of the Absolute Flow of Consciousness. The Restitution of a Doctrine of Brentano in Husserl’s Analysis of Time-Consciousness
This article focuses on one of the attempts Edmund Husserl undertakes in the hitherto unpublished, so-called L-manuscripts, dating mainly from 1917 and 1918, to describe the structure of the consciousness of internal time. The focus on this attempt is motivated by the fact that in it Husserl offers a supplement to a notion that plays a fundamental role in his earlier analysis of time-consciousness, viz. the notion of the self-constitution of the absolute flow of consciousness. In his elaboration of this notion in the L-manuscripts, Husserl for the first time pays attention to the specific function of the protention in the consciousness of time. His concept of self-constitution in the L-manuscripts can be considered to be a restitution of a, modified, version of Franz Brentano’s doctrine of inner consciousness.

A. R. Mackor
Summary: The Moral Status of Animals. A Critical Analysis of Rawls and Carruthers
In this paper I deal with the moral and legal status of animals. I offer a critical analysis of Rawls’s and Carruthers’s arguments against ascribing moral claims to animals. I argue that none of their contractualist arguments are valid. However, Carruthers’s claim that animals are incapable of experiencing pleasure and pain, although intuitively implausible, deserves closer inspection. If Carruthers’s claim is correct, animals are neither moral, nor legal subjects. However, if his analysis fails, the analysis offered in this paper supplies some reasons to accord animals not only moral, but also restricted legal subjectivity.

U. Melle
Summary: Right to Animals or Animal Rights?
The question of the moral status of animals is one of the most controversial and difficult issues in contemporary ethics. Our moral intuitions regarding the treatment of animals are complex and diverse. Our actual behavior towards animals oscillates between extreme forms of instrumentalisation on the one hand and emotional attachment on the other. The present article sketches the main lines of the debate about the moral status of animals. It first addresses the question of animal awareness. It argues that the denial of animal awareness on philosophical and scientific grounds is unwarranted. The article then presents and evaluates the different ethical arguments for and against animal liberation and animal rights, including the feminist critique of the whole debate in terms of the consistent application of ethical principals or universal rights. The conclusion points out that the possibility of a mixed community where humans respect the needs of their fellow-animals requires that we give up animal husbandry.

A. Peperzak
Summary: Philosophy, Faith, Theology
The project of Western ontotheology, if correctly understood, is not exhausted; it can and should be thoroughly renewed and completed before it can be criticized or relativized. This article sets out some conditions for such a retrieval.

  • After the death of modern autonomy, the differential unity of faith, philosophy, and theology must be re-thought and self-consciously practiced.
  • The metaphysical reconnaissance of all types of being, which has been dominated by objectivity and theory, must be retrieved and completed by a not-yet existing philosophy of personality (including speaking, communication, giving, interpersonal history, tradition, community) before the question of God can be asked in philosophy.
  • Persons cannot be understood as they are from the traditional perspective of philosophical theory. To do justice to a person (in phenomenology as much as in practice) presupposes that I address the person (you) who addresses me.

God, who is neither being, nor a (supreme) being, can be evoked through a combination of metaphoric and apophatic language (in which interpersonal metaphors play an important role); but (philosophical and theological) theory unavoidably reduces God to an idol (i.e., a finite god), unless it, caught in a contemplative moment, is integrated in prayer.

P. Raes
Summary: Erwin Straus on the Space of the Landscape and the Geographical Space
This article deals with the distinction which Erwin Straus (1891-1975) draws, in his major philosophical work Vom Sinn der Sinne (1935), between the space of the landscape (landschaftlicher Raum) and geographical space (geographischer Raum). Inspired by Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenological comments on the experience of the poetic, the article tries to clarify this distinction by arguing that the space of the landscape is best to be seen as a poetic expression of the spatial organisation of being-in-the-world. Crucial to this understanding is the interpretation of the concept of der Horizont. The horizon of the space of the landscape is not to be considered as a limit of a visual field, but rather as a metaphor for the sensuous, fundamentally rhythm-structured space of the poetic image. In opposition to the spatial - geographical structure of the world of the melancholic, the space of the landscape is a ‘happy’ distortion or radicalisation of the spatial structure of the Empfindung.

A. Speer
Summary: Philosophy as a Mode of Life? On the Relationship between Philosophy and Wisdom in the Middle Ages
Recently it has been argued that the rise of Christianity is discontinuous with the ancient tradition of philosophy: philosophy ceased to be seen as a way of life but became instead a theoretical discipline. However, as the present article shows, the ideal of philosophy as ‘wisdom’ directing life was never absent in the Middle Ages. In fact, medieval discussions about philosophy as wisdom reflect a tension already present in Antiquity between an existential and an epistemic understanding of philosophy. While the latter model became immensely influential with the entrance of Aristotle in the Latin West, an entrance that stimulated a deeper reflection on the status of philosophy as a ‘science’, there was also a reaction against the loss of the existential dimension of philosophy. This appears from the various attempts (Bonaventure, Eckhart, Cusanus) to understand Christian wisdom as encompassing both the practical and theoretical functions of philosophy.

R. Tinnevelt
Summary: Universality and Loyalty. A Discourse Theoretical Approach to Human Rights
In this paper we examine the meaning of the idea of human rights in the works of Kant and Habermas. As a starting point of this examination we take Rorty’s Oxford Amnesty Lecture of 1993. In this lecture Rorty claims, among other things, that a Kantian foundationalist approach to human rights is outmoded. It is better to neglect the question concerning our nature as human beings and substitute it for the question what we can make of ourselves. Kant’s account of the equal respect that is due to every person, tends to forget that outside our circle of post-Enlightenment European culture most people do not understand why rational agency is a sufficient condition for membership in a moral community. The borders of our moral community are often enough the borders of our family, group or society and do not include every human being. This restriction of the moral community poses a serious challenge to Kantian moral and political theory. On the basis of an analysis of the idea of human rights and the principle of popular sovereignty in the works of Kant and Habermas we try to show that the main claim of both authors is not so much a claim to knowledge about the nature of human beings, but a claim to the counterfactual conditions of a system of rights. As legal subjects we cannot claim a right to equal liberty for ourselves and peoples like us and deny it to everyone outside the borders of our moral community. As legal subjects we may no longer choose the medium or the language in which we can actualize our autonomy. Every system of rights presupposes certain counterfactual conditions, among which a right to equal liberties, and a certain performative meaning.

W. van Bunge
Summary: The Origins of Atheism
In this review of Winfried Schröder’s study of the origins of atheism it is argued that Schröder has brilliantly managed to present a coherent interpretation of the early modern corpus of so-called ‘clandestine manuscripts’. His view, however, that from an 18th-century perspective it was ‘unscientific’ to propound atheism seems questionable as does his insistence on the absence of such classical philosophers as Spinoza in early modern atheistic texts. Yet as a guide to 17th- and 18th-century clandestine literature Schröder’s book is unequalled.

P. Vanden Berghe
Summary: Freud on Different Kinds of Pleasure
This article deals with the following question. Does Freuds description of pleasure as the result of a (significant) reduction of tension (pleasure principle), imply that all pleasure is to be understood in terms of tension, and moreover, in terms of a transition between two states of tension, and again in terms of a reduction of tension? Although Freud certainly provides grounds for such an interpretation, a closer reading of his work (in particular his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, 1905) reveals how he distinguishes at least three sources of pleasure that we can connect with three major philosophical traditions. First of all, there is the pleasure generated by an reduction of tension which follows the satisfaction of a need. This so-called end-pleasure (“Endlust”), fully consonant with the pleasure principle, constitutes a neurophysiological-quantitative reading of a platonic line of thought: pleasure as a filling up of a deficiency (Philebus). Freud discerns another kind of pleasure in the experience of movement or action itself. With this second kind of pleasure, pleasure-in-movement (“Lustcharakter der Bewegungsempfindungen”), he follows a truly aristotelic way of thought, according to which pleasure consists in the (unimpeded) execution of an (immanent) activity (Ethica Nicomachea). There is yet a third form of pleasure, not in the decrease, but precisely in the increase of tension, that Freud thematises as fore-pleasure (“Vorlust”), pleasure-in-excitement. In the expectation of satisfaction (as relief of tension), increasing tension, although a source of displeasure according to the pleasure principle, may not only be endured but also enjoyed for itself through the intervention of (conscious or inconscious) representations. Of this fore-pleasure, that opens out into the realm of mental pleasure and joy, we find an antecedent in the joy in Hope (“gaudium ex spe”) of Thomas Aquinas. But due to the loss of transcendental superstructure, Frued’s fore-pleasure represents a strongly sharpened concept, just as the corresponding experience has become greatly intensified in the contemporary cultural climate.

G. Vanheeswijck
Summary: Is R.G. Collingwood a Metaphysician?
In his introduction to the revised edition of R.G.Collingwood’s An Essay on Metaphysics, Rex Martin puts forward a specific interpretation of Collingwood’s concept of metaphysics, underpinned by a specific choice of unpublished manuscripts. In this critical study, I put forward an alternative choice of manuscripts which sheds a different light on Collingwood’s concept of metaphysics.