Sunday, May 18, 2008

Heidegger, Lafont and the necessity of the transcendental

Heidegger, Lafont and the necessity of the transcendental
R. Matthew Shockey
Indiana University, South Bend, USA

Cristina Lafont's recent reading of Heidegger offers a powerful formulation of the widespread view that once one recognizes our `facticity' and the role of language in shaping it, there is no room left to talk about transcendental structures of meaning or experience. In this article I challenge this view. I argue that Lafont inaccurately conflates what Heidegger calls our `understanding of being' with that which language discloses. In order to show that the philosophical motivation for this conflation is unsound, I also argue that Lafont's own positive theory of meaning itself tacitly assumes a distinction between factical and transcendental, and so rests on exactly what she finds problematic in Heidegger. This still leaves a puzzle as to how factical individuals are actually able to grasp anything transcendental, so I conclude by sketching Heidegger's method of `formal indication', which is meant to show precisely how this can be done.

Key Words: facticity • Martin Heidegger • language • transcendental philosophy

from here

On the psychogenesis of the a priori

On the psychogenesis of the a priori
Jean Piaget's critique of Kant
Horst Pfeiffle
Vienna Institute of Economics and Business Administration

The seal of the a priori is imprinted on the reception of Kant's philosophy. Piaget's epistemological argumentation seems to ascribe knowledge a more fruitful constructiveness than Kant, seeing the a priori as rooted in unvarying reason. Yet, it seems, he failed to recognize the complexity of Kant's theory, which does not always follow a quid iuris line. Moments of experience, analysis and self-observation played more than a marginal role in his discovery of the a priori. Indeed, Kant himself raises the question of ontogenetic category assimilation in a review which pre-empts Piaget, borrowing the category of `original acquisition' from the doctrine of the laws of natural right. And although Kant should not be elevated to the harbinger of the knowledge on development issues delivered thus far by the history of science and experiments, he did recognize the temporal reference of their categories in principle without resolving their validity in psychogenetic terms.

Key Words: a priori • categories • genetic epistemology • Geneva School • neo-Kantianism • original acquisition • Jean Piaget • psychogenesis • self-observation

from here

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory

Amy Allen, The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory, Columbia University Press, 2008, 230pp., $34.50 (hbk), ISBN 9780231136228.

Reviewed by J. Jeremy Wisnewski, Hartwick College

In her recent book, Amy Allen tackles one of the persistent problems of post-Foucaultian critical theory: how can we acknowledge the pervasive mechanisms of power in the formation of our identities, and yet still allow for an ideal of autonomous action? This problem -- one that has been a sticking point in the discussion between Foucaultians and Habermasians -- has also come to be an issue of much importance in the feminist literature. The Politics of Our Selves is a persuasive and well-reasoned account of how we might find our way through some difficult -- some might say 'intractable' -- problems of contemporary feminism and critical theory. The book demonstrates that the perceived opposition between power and knowledge is something of a red herring. Recognizing this, moreover, has important consequences for some of feminism's most serious debates -- as well as for understanding the appropriate parameters of a critical theory.

The Politics of Our Selves begins by rethinking the Foucault/Habermas debate -- a debate that centers on the place of critique in the network of power. In reading Foucault's work, where power 'is everywhere' and is that in virtue of which agents are constructed and placed within systems of normalization and subordination, a persistent worry seems to arise: if power is absolutely everywhere, how is it possible to engage in the critique of power in such a way that we might (at least partially) liberate ourselves from the oppressive aspects of power? If power pervades everything, it follows that it pervades rationality, and hence that the use of rationality itself is riddled with the very means of subordination we are trying to overcome. It is precisely this criticism that has been leveled against the Foucaultian enterprise by philosophers like Habermas and Charles Taylor.

full here

Friday, May 09, 2008

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