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The Beautiful, The True and the Good

The Beautiful, The True and the Good

Robert E. Wood
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt16ptn39
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    The Beautiful, The True and the Good
    Book Description:

    "Among the foremost Catholic philosophers of his generation. He has utilized the fullness of the Catholic intellectual tradition to brilliantly take the measure of modern philosophical thought . . . This volume is an expression of Robert Wood's singular philosophical outlook." -Jude Dougherty, dean emeritus, school of philosophy, The Catholic University of America

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2748-1
    Subjects: Philosophy
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Introduction: Human Nature, Culture, and the Dialogical Imperative (pp. xix-xxxiv)

    The horizon of contemporary discussion includes a rejection of human nature that stands in tension with attempts to revive the notion within the context of dialogue. Lyotard considers the notion of human nature as a construct of the Enlightenment, a blanched, one-leveled notion that destroys the plurality of cultural experiences. He reaffirms the plurality of Wittgensteinian language games and rejects the Habermasian search for consensus by calling attention to the dissension from dominant paradigms that leads to scientific expansion.¹ Habermas claims that the structure of language implies a decentered subjectivity in a community underpinned by language and aimed at an...

  6. 1 Reflections on Heraclitus (pp. 1-12)

    The work of Heraclitus, unlike the work of Plato or Aristotle, has come down to us only in fragments preserved in various ancient sources that cited his work. As Charles Kahn has pointed out, every age has “projected its own meaning and its own preoccupations onto the text of Heraclitus.”¹ His fragments have had a peculiar attraction in modern times. Hegel said that there was not a single fragment (or “proposition”) that had not found a place in his System.² Nietzsche drew deeply from them. He claimed that “what he (Heraclitus) saw, the teaching oflaw in becomingand of...

  7. 2 Parmenides (pp. 13-20)

    Parmenides is traditionally approached in terms of his basic distinction between the “Way of Truth” and the “Way of Seeming.” We prefer to begin with a distinction implicated in the very first line, a distinction little attended to by interpreters of Parmenides, but a distinction of pivotal importance both for the understanding of our relation to Being and for a rapprochement between Eastern and Western thought: “The steeds that carry me took me as far as my heart could desire?”¹ Heart and the limits of its desire initiate Western metaphysics. Not thought, not logic or reason, but “the heart” with...

  8. 3 Plato’s Line Revisited: The Pedagogy of Complete Reflection (pp. 21-41)

    The Platonic dialogues are not treatises in disguise. They are protreptic and proleptic instruments, positioning the reader dispositionally and providing hints for the work of completing the direction of thought by attending to “the things themselves,” the phenomena to which human beings, properly attuned, have native access. Plato, I would contend, is a proto-phenomenologist whose dialogues yield significant coherent results when approached from that point of view.

    In this chapter, I will focus on the center of one dialogue, the Line of Knowledge in the middle of theRepublic. It contains a set of assertions, or “poetic proclamations,” and is...

  9. 4 Phenomenology and the Perennial Task of Philosophy: A Study of Plato and Aristotle (pp. 42-61)

    In hisProlegomena to a History of the Concept of Time, Martin Heidegger made what might seem an odd claim, namely, that phenomenology is a return to Plato and Aristotle.¹ But then that is not so odd when we consider that the practitioners of twentieth-century phenomenology and these two ancient founders were all initially after the eidetic or the essential forms given in experience. Plato is famous for his doctrine of Forms, of changeless eidetic features. He advises his readers, when carrying out eidetic analysis, to “carve along the joints” of what is given rather than hacking through like a...

  10. 5 Recollection and Two Banquets: Plato’s and Kierkegaard’s (pp. 62-81)

    InThe Concept of Irony, Kierkegaard’s dissertation, Socrates is the key figure. Developing the concept of irony around Socrates, Kierkegaard spends some pages giving an account of Socrates in Plato’sSymposium.¹ That dialogue between a group of homosexuals takes place at a banquet following a banquet celebrating Agathon’s having received the equivalent of the Academy Award for the best tragedy of the year. Several years after his dissertation, in the first part ofStages on Life’s Way, “In Vino Veritas,” Kierkegaard produced his own imitation of Plato’sSymposiumabout another banquet some twenty-three hundred years later. The occasion is a...

  11. 6 Plato, Descartes, and Heidegger: An Inquiry into the Paths of Inquiry (pp. 82-106)

    The three figures Plato, Descartes, and Heidegger provide us with three anchors that allow us to look over the history of Western thought and compare the differing modes of inquiry and the differing (but also similar) things uncovered through the different modes.¹

    René Descartes attempted a bracketing of tradition in order to arrive at radical responsibility for the evidential grounding of whatever claims he might make and thus to secure the foundations of science. In this, he has a parallel in Plato’s attempted ascent from the Cave of traditionaldoxainto the evidential grounds constitutingepisteme.² Descartes envisioned the Tree...

  12. 7 Art and Truth: Plato, Nietzsche, and Heidegger (pp. 107-153)

    Plato and Heidegger stand at two ends of the philosophic tradition. Plato launched metaphysics as the search for the truth of the Whole; Heidegger attempted to get back to the ground of metaphysics after it reached its supposed end—in one sense in Hegel and in another sense in Nietzsche. Crucial to Plato is the struggle of philosophy with art over the basis of human existence. The infamous line in the tenth book of theRepublicplaces art “three degrees removed from truth (aletheia).”¹ It provides images of images of things that are themselves images of the “beingly beings,” the...

  13. 8 The Heart in/of Augustine’s Confessions: A Contribution to Religious Phenomenology (pp. 154-169)

    The notion ofcor, the heart, lies at the heart of Augustine’s thought. It appears some 2,262 times in his works and some seventy-five times in hisConfessions. It is its function in the latter work that I will examine in this chapter.

    Corappears at the beginning of the work in one of its most memorable lines: “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord; and our hearts are restless and will not rest until they rest in You” (I, i, I/2.).¹ The divine correlate appears at the end of Augustine’s search in the vision of “Beauty ever ancient,...

  14. 9 The Self and the Other: Aquinas’s List of Transcendentals (pp. 170-190)

    In theDe Veritate,¹ Thomas Aquinas attempts a logical division of the transcendental properties of being according to the distinction between a being considered absolutely and considered in relation to another. Each division, in turn, is further divided into positive and negative properties. The positive relative properties, goodness and truth, have received extended treatment by the Scholastics, as has the negative absolute property, unity. However, the positive absolute propertyres(thing) and especially the negative relative propertyaliquid(other, i.e.,alium quid) are generally given scant treatment.

    This chapter will suggest the main lines of a reinterpretation of the transcendentals...

  15. 10 Kant’s “Antinomic” Aesthetics (pp. 191-215)

    Even a cursory glance at Kant’s thought indicates that it revolves around “antinomies,” literally “contrary laws” or the clash of different modes of legislation. In theCritique of Pure Reason, we find the famouscosmological antinomiessetting the empirical against the rational: the limited or unlimited character of time, the divisible or indivisible character of the basic constituents of things, freedom or the laws of nature, and necessity or contingency as the basis of things.¹ In theCritique of Practical Reason, the rational nature, governed by duty, is set over against the animal nature of inclination, duty against happiness, deontology...

  16. 11 Hegel: From Misunderstanding to the Beginning of Understanding (pp. 216-229)

    Hegel is without a doubt one of the most misunderstood thinkers in Western intellectual history, a history he claimed to sum up and bring to its maturity. This misunderstanding has several roots. One is the intrinsic difficulty of grasping Hegel’s thought. It is dense, technical, dialectical, and arranged in such a way that, to understand anything in it, one has to understanding its linkage with the whole system of thought. This means that one could easily take any given statement out of context and find in it a meaning that on the surface sounds preposterous.

    A second problem is the...

  17. 12 Hegel on the Heart (pp. 230-249)

    In a polemic typically aimed at Hegelians and in the name of religious piety, Kierkegaard complained that philosophers construct magnificent thought-castles and dwell in miserable shacks nearby. Dwelling is a matter of deepest individuality, of subjectivity, passion, and inwardness.¹ It is a matter of the heart, of which Pascal says that reason knows nothing.² And everyone knows that the individual with his precious heart is swallowed up in Hegelian panlogicism and ground under in the march of the Absolute through history.

    What I intend to demonstrate is that none of these claims, which have become almost axiomatic in some quarters,...

  18. 13 High and Low in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra (pp. 250-279)

    Friedrich Nietzsche is often viewed as the thinker who contributed most powerfully to the destruction of values, rendering arbitrary all distinction between better and worse, between high and low, and substituting a voluntarist imposition of value for objectively grounded value. As diagnostician of value-nihilism, he is viewed also as its strongest proponent.¹ I want to argue in this chapter that, far from being a nihilist, Nietzsche has a definite and, above all, largely defensible set of criteria for determining high and low values.² And I want to examine those criteria as they appear in what he regarded as his—and...

  19. 14 Monasticism, Eternity, and the Heart: Hegel, Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky (pp. 280-296)

    There is a sense in which Hegel summed up the philosophic tradition. And he did so by focusing attention upon the eternal encompassment present in life itself. Nietzsche carried on that movement “to install eternity in time.” In both cases, the enemy was monasticism, whose focus on eternity beyond this life led to a genuine contempt for this life. Dostoevsky was sensitive to both sides in this encounter: ancient monasticism and the Hegel-Nietzsche attack on it. In hisBrothers Karamazov, he realized a kind ofAufhebungof the antinomies in the figures of Fr. Zosima and his protégé, Alyosha Karamazov....

  20. 15 The Free Spirit: Spinoza, Hegel, and Nietzsche (pp. 297-311)

    One hears in Hegel that freedom is the recognition of necessity;¹ one reads in Nietzsche that the free spirit is characterized byamor fatias the will to the Eternal Recurrence of the Same.² It seems that we have identical, if paradoxical, claims. Both of them find affinities in Spinoza, for whom everything follows with rigid necessity, and the free man is one who is privileged by the working of necessity to recognize that fact by rising above the appetites that cloud the mind.³ Awareness of belonging to the Whole and accepting the necessity of fate link Nietzsche to Spinoza...

  21. 16 Five Bodies and a Sixth: Awareness in an Evolutionary Universe (pp. 312-323)

    Nothing seems more evident than the nature of body. We apply the term “body” to what presents itself through the five senses: what can be seen, touched, smelt, heard, and tasted. It is what is extended, mobile, and resistant, appearing in various shapes and exhibiting the properties correlative to each of the senses. We ourselves are evidently bodies and we have to do always with bodies in our wakeful lives. But that does not settle the question of their nature—only how we ordinarily use the term and how we identify instances of it.

    If we look over the history...

  22. 17 The Phenomenologists (pp. 324-356)

    What is Phenomenology? Externally considered, it is a philosophical movement that originated in Germany at the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century, found its classic inspiration in the sustained work of Edmund Husserl, and developed in differing ways in thinkers like Max Scheler, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, more recently in Paul Ricoeur and Hans-Georg Gadamer and most recently in figures like Jean-Luc Marion. It continues to have wide impact in such diverse areas as the philosophy of physical science and mathematics, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, legal theory, economics, history, literature, political science, linguistics, anthropology, aesthetics, and religion....

  23. 18 Six Heideggerian Figures (pp. 357-379)

    Throughout Heidegger’s works, six figures, exhibiting six different ways of life, emerge, the exposition and comparison of which might help to bring his thought into focus. I will call them the ways of the peasant, the artist-poet, the philosopher, the scientist, the man on the street, and the thinker. The peasant and the contemporary man on the street exhibit ways of life that have to be constructed out of Heidegger’s concerns, but they throw light on the other ways. They help illuminate what Being-in-the-world entails. The first two ways, that of the peasant and that of the artist-poet, antedate the...

  24. 19 Weiss on Adumbration (pp. 380-392)

    Paul Weiss, founder of the Metaphysical Society of America and ofThe Review of Metaphysics, had a special knack for attending to items that other philosophers tend to ignore. Shakespeare’s line, “There are more things in heaven and on earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” though applicable to many thinkers, seems inappropriate when applied to Weiss. In his own way, Weiss is even more ample than the omnivorous Hegel, who, after all, never elaborated a philosophy of sport. But then again, many seem inclined to reverse Shakespeare’s line in Weiss’s case: “There are more things in Weiss’s philosophy...

  25. 20 Buber’s Use of Oriental Themes (pp. 393-416)

    In the East and in the West today, religious and philosophical traditions seem to be in a rapid state of decay brought about by the geometrical increase in the It-World of scientific and technical mastery that emerged out of the West since the time of the Renaissance. If such an It-World seemed overpowering in 1923 when Buber’s classicI and Thouappeared, it has moved light-years beyond since then in its industrial-scientific component and in the social regimentation connected therewith.¹

    The religious ecumenical movement within the West and the developing dialogue between world religions today have infrastructural roots in this...

  26. 21 The Dialogical Principle: Buber and Marcel (pp. 417-433)

    Riding the crest of a wave of popularity in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, today Gabriel Marcel and Martin Buber are largely thinkers who have been forgotten—except perhaps forI and Thou, whose poetic character gives it the status of something like Kahil Gibron’sThe Prophet.¹ And yet the center of what they both touch upon—the center that they share in common with each other and with a still “live” thinker like Heidegger—is something essential to being human and thus carries an enduring relevance.

    Though the terminology may differ, there is a remarkable parallelism between the basic...

  27. 22 Silence, Being, and the Between: Picard, Heidegger, and Buber (pp. 434-450)

    Max Picard’s notion of Silence,¹ Martin Heidegger’s notion of Being,² and Martin Buber’s notion of the Between³ are not identical notions; but these three, I would suggest, stem from the same region of experience. It is a region whose loss all three thinkers bemoan as the ground of our modem unrest and rootlessness, for we are no longer planted in the soil, the relational context that is our proper element as human beings. When one thinks of rootedness, one thinks of family or of tradition, and, as significant regions of relatedness, these are not unrelated to the notions in question....

  28. Bibliography (pp. 451-464)
  29. Index of Authors (pp. 465-468)
  30. Subject Index (pp. 469-474)
  31. Back Matter (pp. 475-475)