• On the Systemic Meaning of Meaningless Utterances: The Place of Language in Hegel's Speculative Philosophy

      Toula Nicolacopoulos; La Trobe University (Australia); George Vassilacopoulos; La Trobe University (Australia) (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      The aim of our paper is to offer a reading of the systemic significance of Hegel’s inclusion of the concept of the sign in the ‘Psychology’ of his Philosophy of Mind. We hope to explain why it is that the Hegelian system positions a specific form of sign, the meaningless utterance, at the point of Mind’s transition from ‘mechanical memory’ to ‘Thinking’. Rather than analyse the subtle advancements in the unfolding of the self-determining activity of ‘Theoretical Mind’, our strategy will be to focus attention on what we take to be some central aspects of the philosophical system’s wider developmental logic and of the general treatment of language in speculative philosophy. We do this by arguing that, according to Hegel’s Logic, language provides the element in which persons are drawn together out of their independent subjectivity into a unity that gives expression to their universal nature as in process and, ultimately, as a project to be realized. This argument is supplemented by a reading of the general nature of the movement of Spirit within Hegel’s system that draws attention to the significance of what we call ‘the absolute potentiality’ of Spirit. We argue that the transition from Mechanical Memory to ‘Thinking’ relies upon the activity of producing the meaningless utterance because this product of Mind reveals its universal nature to be its essential unity with its object. This transition allows us to show how Mind must be understood to return to itself out of its self-loss in Mechanical Memory. Finally we argue that the production of the meaningless utterance fulfils the requirement of reformulating the elementary idea of Spirit through an incorporation of the naturalness of the natural.
    • Reading Elden's 'Mapping the Present'

      Ali M Rizvi; La Trobe University (Australia) (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      A discussion of S. Elden, Mapping the Present: Heidegger Foucault and the Project of A Spatial History, London, Continuum, 2001.
    • Editorial Introduction to the First Edition of Cosmos and History

      Arran Gare; Swinburne University; Paul Ashton; Victoria and LaTrobe University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
    • Mathematics, Explanation and Reductionism: Exposing the Roots of the Egyptianism of European Civilization

      Arran Gare; Swinburne University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      We have reached the peculiar situation where the advance of mainstream science has required us to dismiss as unreal our own existence as free, creative agents, the very condition of there being science at all. Efforts to free science from this dead-end and to give a place to creative becoming in the world have been hampered by unexamined assumptions about what science should be, assumptions which presuppose that if creative becoming is explained, it will be explained away as an illusion. In this paper it is shown that this problem has permeated the whole of European civilization from the Ancient Greeks onwards, leading to a radical disjunction between cosmology which aims at a grasp of the universe through mathematics and history which aims to comprehend human action through stories. By going back to the Ancient Greeks and tracing the evolution of the denial of creative becoming, I trace the layers of assumptions that must in some way be transcended if we are to develop a truly post-Egyptian science consistent with the forms of understanding and explanation that have evolved within history.
    • Relational Creativity and the Symmetry of Freedom and Nature

      Philip Michael Rose; Department of Philosophy, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      One of the more important and persistent of problems in speculative philosophy is reconciling the relation between freedom and nature. This is often referred to as the problem of freedom and determinism, but this way of formulating the problem assumes, uncritically, that nature is and must necessarily be a purely deterministic framework. As I hope to show, the so-called problem of freedom and determinism lies precisely in this deterministic assumption. By reorienting the question in terms of the relation between freedom and nature, rather than freedom and determinism, we can better see how the problem of their tension or ‘contradiction’ only arises if nature itself is defined and characterized in a very limited, purely deterministic way. Once we step outside the deterministic assumption and entertain alternative views of nature, the problem of freedom and determinism does not arise.
    • The Root of Heidegger's Concern for the Earth at the Consummation of Metaphysics: The Nietzsche Lectures

      Dale Allen Wilkerson; University of North Texas (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      This essay attempts to situate Heidegger’s critique of modernity’s technological worldview within the conceptual context and time frame of his Nietzsche lectures of the 1930’s. Heidegger discovers in Nietzsche’s thought the “consummation of metaphysics” and in Nietzsche’s concept of “will to power” an articulation of the world dominating principle reflecting modernity’s comportment with beings as mere resources for consumption. Such a principle voices the utter destruction of Being and obliterates any possibility for the more considerate disclosure of beings in a non-technological way.
    • Energy and Semiotics: The Second Law and the Origin of Life

      Stanley Salthe; Binghamton University (USA) (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      After deconstructing the thermodynamic concepts of work and waste, I take up Howard Odum’s idea of energy quality, which tallies the overall amount of energy needed to be dissipated in order to accomplish some work of interest. This was developed from economic considerations that give obvious meaning to the work accomplished. But the energy quality idea can be used to import meaning more generally into Nature. It could be viewed as projecting meaning back from any marked work into preceding energy gradient dissipations that immediately paved the way for it. But any work done by an abiotic dissipative structure, since it would be without positive economic significance, would also be difficult to mark as a starting point for the energy quality calculation. Furthermore, any (for humans) destructive work as by hurricanes or floods, with negative economic significance, would not seem to merit the quality calculation either. But there has been abiotic work of keen interest to us—that which mediated the origin of life. Some kind(s) of abiotic dissipative structures had to have been the framework(s) that fostered this process, regardless of how it might come to be understood in detail. Since all dissipative structures have the same thermodynamic and informational organization in common, any of them might provide the material context for the origin of something. So we can pick any starting point we wish, and calculate backward what sequence of energy usages would have been necessary to set it up. Given such an open ended project, we could not find an obvious place in any sequence to stop and start the forward the calculation, and so we would need to take it right back to an ultimate beginning, like the insolation of some area, or the outpouring of Earth’s thermal energy. Any energy dissipation might be the beginning of something of importance, and so Nature is as replete with potential meanings as it is with energy gradients.
    • Scientific Paradigms and Urban Development: Alternative Models

      Martin Fichman; York University; Edmund P. Fowler; Glendon College, York University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      Urban sprawl’s negative impacts have been amply demonstrated, starting as long as 30 years ago, and most North American urban plans have, somewhere, reference to sprawl as bad policy (or, perhaps, absence of policy). Yet North Americans continue to tolerate the construction of more and more suburban subdivisions. This paper suggests an answer to this paradox. We argue that sprawl’s attractiveness – if one can call it that – is buried deep in North American cultural predispositions, which we trace to quite specific interpretations of the mechanistic worldview that emerged from 17th and 18th century revolutions in natural philosophy. North American culture is a scientific culture as well as a suburban one. If mechanistic science and its peculiar view of nature is so pervasive and if suburban sprawl is both pervasive and dysfunctional, then this particular form of science and its cultural roots need to be carefully examined. We do this from the perspective of the 21st century, when quantum physics and new discoveries in the ecological and biological sciences are suggesting that many commonly accepted assumptions about physical reality inherited from 17th and 18th century science are flawed.
    • On Mathematical Naturalism and the Powers of Symbolisms

      Murray Code; University of Guelph (Canada) (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      Advances in modern mathematics indicate that progress in this field of knowledge depends mainly on culturally inflected imaginative intuitions, or intuitive imaginings—which mysteriously result in the growth of systems of symbolism that are often efficacious, although fallible and very likely evolutionary. Thus the idea that a trouble-free epistemology can be constructed out of an intuition-free mathematical naturalism would seem to be question begging of a very high order. I illustrate the point by examining Philip Kitcher’s attempt to frame an empiricist philosophy of mathematics, which he calls “mathematical naturalism,” wherein he proposes to explain novelty in mathematics by means of the notion of ‘rational interpractice transitions,’ only to end with an appeal to science to supply a meaning for rationality. A more promising naturalistic approach is adumbrated by Noam Chomsky who begins with a straightforward acceptance of mind and language as ‘natural’ or concrete facts which bespeak the need for a linguistic faculty. This indicates in turn that there may also be a mathematical faculty capable of generating and exploiting the powers of mathematical symbolisms in a manner analogous to the linguistic faculty.
    • The Bull in the China Shop: A Discussion of an Ambiguity Within Pettit’s Theory of Freedom as Discursive Control (Philip Pettit, A Theory of Freedom: From the Psychology to the Politics of Agency)

      Steven J Youngblood; Massey University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      In Philip Pettit’s “A Theory of Freedom”, Pettit claims that being free to do something is being held responsible for what we do; so whatever theory of freedom we develop must allow the agent to be held responsible for the free actions that they do. In this paper I am going to examine Pettit’s claim about what a satisfactory theory of freedom would require, and discuss several ambiguities within the theory. However, within this reading two major interpretations may be taken: the first of which suggests that freedom can only be freedom when there is a moral ‘ought’ involved; the second is a more generous reading in which freedom includes all realms of responsibility.
    • Giordano Bruno e il Problema della Modernita

      Stefano Ulliana (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      Il testo viene pubblicato per gentile concessione della casa editrice ESI ed e’ tratto dal libro di Stefano Ulliana “Il concetto creativo e dialettico dello Spirito nei Dialoghi Italiani di Giordano Bruno. Il confronto con la tradizione neoplatonico-aristotelica: il testo bruniano De l’Infinito, Universo e mondi”, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, Napoli, 2003. Le argomentazioni presentate ne Il concetto creativo e dialettico dello Spirito nei Dialoghi Italiani di Giordano Bruno (Il confronto con la tradizione neoplatonico-aristotelica: il testo bruniano De l’Infinito, Universo e mondi) costituiscono le conclusioni ultime e definitive di un lavoro di ricerca che ha investito l’insieme dei Dialoghi Italiani, riuscendo a reperire ed a far emergere quello che pare il nucleo più profondo ed importante—il vero e proprio elevato fondamento—della speculazione bruniana: la presenza attiva di un concetto triadico teologico-politico—il Padre, il Figlio e lo Spirito della tradizione trinitaria cristiana—però riformulato attraverso il capovolgimento rivoluzionario di questa stessa tradizione, attuato attraverso il concetto creativo e dialettico dell’infinito. In questo modo la stessa tradizione platonica pare subire una trasformazione essenziale, abbandonando qualunque forma di alienazione e negazione, per riaprirsi invece verso soluzioni che paiono riprendere moniti ed osservazioni suscitati dalle prime, grandi e maestose, speculazioni dei filosofi presocratici. Parmenide, Eraclito ed Empedocle sembrano rivivere nei testi bruniani, riproponendo una soluzione ben diversa a quei nodi e problemi teoretico-pratici—fondamentale il rapporto Uno-molti e tutto ciò che da esso consegue, sia sul piano naturale che politico—apparentemente risolti e codificati dal pensiero postsocratico, prima platonico e poi aristotelico. L’inscindibilit� del principio di libert� (la figura teologica del Padre) ed eguaglianza (il Figlio), attraverso il richiamo alla fonte amorosa infinita ed universale (lo Spirito), consente alla riflessione bruniana di presentare per la prima volta nel panorama filosofico mondiale di tutti i tempi la possibilit� di salvaguardare sia l’aspetto creativo naturale, che la diversit� politica, presentando nel contempo un concetto di ragione capace di esprimere un movimento infinito sempre aperto ed attento alla molteplicit� . In questa liberazione della potenza e della volont� dalle strettoie ordinate e gerarchiche della tradizione il pensiero e la riflessione di Giordano Bruno danno inizio alla modernit� , ripresentandosi quale mirabile soluzione ogni qual volta potere e violenza paiono assestarsi e reciprocamente incrementarsi, in un circolo apparentemente indistruttibile. Allora i capitoli di questo libro—attraverso l’analisi di concetti importanti nella filosofia bruniana, quali quelli del desiderio e dell’immaginazione, della materia e della ragione—riattraversano la storia della definizione filosofica delle entit� reali più importanti—Dio, Natura, Ragione, Uno—per mostrare un’opposizione fondamentale: l’opposizione fra la fusione speculativa apportata dal pensiero neoplatonico-aristotelico (antico, moderno e contemporaneo), attenta alla difesa della necessit� ordinata di un mondo unico, e la liberazione speculativo-pratica bruniana, attenta a far rivivere la coscienza dell’infinito, in noi e fuori di noi. ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The arguments that have been presented in this essay, which are part of the book ‘The creative and dialectical concept of the Spirit in the Italian Dialogues of Jordanus Brunus. The comparison with the neoplatonic-Aristotelian tradition: the brunian text De l’Infinito, Universo e mondi’, constitute the ultimate and definitive conclusions of a body of research that has mainly focused on Bruno’s work “Dialoghi Italiani”. This research has managed to rise the deepest and most important core of the true foundation of Giordano Bruno’s speculative thinking—the active presence of a triadic theological-political concept of the Father, the Son and the Spirit of Christian tradition. However, this triad has also been reformulated through the revolutionary overturning of this tradition and realized through a creative and dialectical concept of the infinite. In this way the same Platonic tradition seems to undergo an essential transformation by abandoning any form of alienation and negation and indeed to open itself to recover those warnings and observations that the first great speculative thoughts of the Presocratics philosophers brought about. Parmenides, Heraclitus and Empedocles seem to come to life again in Bruno’s essays by proposing a different solution to those theoretical and practical problems such as the fundamental relation between One-many and what it can represent either at the natural level or at the political level which have been apparently solved and codified in the Platonic and Aristotelian thought. The indissolubility of the freedom principle (the theological character of the Father) and equality (the Son), through the use of the loving, infinite and universal source (the Spirit), allows Bruno’s reflection to present for the first time in the entire philosophical tradition the possibility of safeguarding the creative aspect as well as the political diversity. He achieves this by showing a concept of reason which is able to express the infinite movement that it is always open and measured (careful) towards the multiplicity. In this release of power and will from the ordered and hierarchical paths of the philosophy tradition, Bruno’s thought gave birth to Modernity.
    • The Bull in the China Shop: A Discussion of an Ambiguity Within Pettit’s Theory of Freedom as Discursive Control (Philip Pettit, A Theory of Freedom: From the Psychology to the Politics of Agency)

      Steven J Youngblood; Massey University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-10-20)
      In Philip Pettit’s “A Theory of Freedom”, Pettit claims that being free to do something is being held responsible for what we do; so whatever theory of freedom we develop must allow the agent to be held responsible for the free actions that they do. In this paper I am going to examine Pettit’s claim about what a satisfactory theory of freedom would require, and discuss several ambiguities within the theory. However, within this reading two major interpretations may be taken: the first of which suggests that freedom can only be freedom when there is a moral ‘ought’ involved; the second is a more generous reading in which freedom includes all realms of responsibility.
    • Philosophy of Communication: What Does it Have to do With Philosophy of Social Sciences

      Jean Robillard; Télé-université, Université du Québec (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      As concepts, communication and information are very closely related, but they also designate more than their usual conceptual meaning when they are called upon in social theories as well as in philosophical theories about the reality and the truth of social life; information and communication are then designating physical events or event like objects of the observable reality, which will be hereafter described as a procedural ontologization of information. Why do they have this role and how do they play it in contemporary social sciences and philosophy of social sciences? This article questions the scientificity of these concepts in these theoretical contexts. It wants to propose a framework for an epistemology of communication and information that is critical about the cybernetician paradigm in the social sciences. It presents this paradigm’s main features: informational ontology and probabilistic sociality. It offers a critique of this paradigm’s epistemological and methodological pretensions. It finally exposes the basis of an alternative philosophical theory of communication that wants to support the thesis that the cybernetician paradigmatic communication theory is not scientifically productive; and that it cannot be used in social scientific theoretical contexts without being dramatically redesigned and reoriented towards new goals.
    • By Transmission: How it All Comes Down to Nothing (Gabriel Riera (ed.), Alain Badiou: Philosophy and its Conditions)

      Adam J. Bartlett; Deakin University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      Discussion of Gabriel Riera (ed.), Alain Badiou: Philosophy and its Conditions, New York, Suny, 2005.
    • After the Surprising Conversions (Jacqueline Rose, The Question of Zion)

      Justin Clemens; Deakin University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      A discussion of Jacqueline Rose, The Question of Zion, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 2005.
    • Where Times Meet

      Theodore R. Schatzki; University of Kentucky (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      This essay pursues two goals: (1) to argue that two fundamental types of time—the time of objective reality and “the time of the soul”—meet in human activity and history and (2) to defend the legitimacy of calling a particular version of the second type a kind of time. The essay begins by criticizing Paul Ricoeur’s version of the claim that times of these two sorts meet in history. It then presents an account of human activity based on Heidegger’s Being and Time, according to which certain times of the two types—existential temporality and succession—meet in human activity. The legitimacy of calling existential temporality a kind of time is then defended via an expanded analysis of activity that examines where the two times meet there. The concluding section briefly considers a conception of historical time due to David Carr before showing why history is a broader domain encompassing human activity where the two times meet.
    • Recollecting the Future (The Future of Critical Theory)

      Paul Ashton; Victoria and LaTrobe University (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      Conference Report: The Future of Critical Theory, Ashworth Program in Social Theory, University of Melbourne, 17-18 November 2005.
    • The Cosmic Bellows: The Big Bang and the Second Law

      Stanley Salthe; Binghamton University (USA); Gary Fuhrman (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      We present here a cosmological myth, alternative (but complementary) to "the Universe Story" and "the Epic of Evolution", highlighting the roles of entropy and dissipative structures in the universe inaugurated by the Big Bang. Our myth offers answers these questions: Where are we? What are we? Why are we here? What are we to do? It also offers answers to a set of "why" questions: Why is there anything at all? and Why are there so many kinds of systems? - the answers coming from cosmology and physics (thermodynamics); Why do systems not last once they exist? - the answer coming from a materialist interpretation of information theory; and, Why are systems just the way they are and not otherwise? - the answer coming from evolutionary biology. We take into account the four kinds of causation designated by Aristotle as efficient, final, and material formal, with the Second Law of thermodynamics in the role of final cause. Conceptual problems concerning reductionism, "teleology", and the choice/chance distinction are dealt with in the framework of specification hierarchy, and the moral implications of our story explored in the conclusion.
    • The Freedom to Design Nature: Kant's Strong Ought→Can Inference in 21st Century Perspective

      Edward Eugene Kleist; Department of Philosophy, Loyola University of New Orleans (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      Kant’s attempts to formulate a conception of the harmony of nature and freedom have two logical presuppositions. The first presupposition is separation of ought and is, which provides a logical formulation of the separation of freedom and nature. Kant might well have settled on the view that the separation between nature and freedom cannot be bridged. Why did Kant attempt to overcome said separation? The second presupposition of Kant’s project to bridge nature and freedom involves an ought→can inference, stating that moral obligation implies the possibility of its fulfillment. There are at least two ways this inference can be understood. There is a weak sense of the inference, stating that no one is obliged to do the impossible. There is also a very strong sense of the inference, stating that if a moral obligation is found to obtain, it must then be possible to fulfill it. Kant interprets the ought→can inference in this strong as well as in the weak sense. Nature, the law-governed totality of what exists, must be understood as able to provide a suitable field for moral realization. The isomorphism between the lawfulness of nature and that of moral freedom animate Kant’s account of moral judgment, and will provide the main focus of the current investigation. Kant conceives of nature and freedom as twin kingdoms, thus providing a theoretical model validating this ought→can inference. The weaker sense of this ought→can inference does justice to moral judgment without requiring the awesome task of bridging nature and freedom. Why, then, should we maintain the strong ought→can inference in our post-Kantian situation? I suggest that Kant’s insistence on the strong ought→can inference may yield an ethical approach to the ever more powerful ways in which human beings technologically transform nature, including human nature itself.
    • Cosmic Ecstasy and Process Theology

      Blair Reynolds; University of Alaska (Cosmos Publishing Cooperative, 2005-12-19)
      The notion that God and the world are mutually interdependent is generally taken to be unique to twentieth-century process theology. Largely, process thinkers have focused on classical theists, rather than the mystics. My thesis, however, is that, centuries before process came along, there were Western mystical concepts stressing that God needed the universe in order to become conscious and complete. In support of my thesis, I will provide a synopsis of the doctrines of God as found in mystics such as Boehme, Dionysius, Eckhart, and then show how Whitehead’s aesthetic provides a coherent philosophical psychology of ecstasy. Key words: aesthetic experience, causal efficacy, consequent nature of God, ecstasy, feeling, German Romanticism, primordial nature of God, reformed subjectivist principle, Nicht, unconscious experience.