215 episodes

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books

New Books in Philosophy New Books Network

    • Philosophy

Interview with Philosophers about their New Books

    Maria Dimova-Cookson, "Rethinking Positive and Negative Liberty" (Routledge, 2019)

    Maria Dimova-Cookson, "Rethinking Positive and Negative Liberty" (Routledge, 2019)

    Maria Dimova-Cookson's new book Rethinking Positive and Negative Liberty (Routledge, 2019) offers an analysis of the distinction between positive and negative freedom building on the work of Constant, Green and Berlin. The author proposes a new reading of this distinction for the twenty-first century. The author defends the idea that freedom is a dynamic interaction between two inseparable, yet sometimes fundamentally, opposed positive and negative concepts – the yin and yang of freedom. Positive freedom is achieved when one succeeds in doing what is right, while negative freedom is achieved when one is able to advance one’s wellbeing. In an environment of culture wars, resurging populism and challenge to progressive liberal values, theorizing freedom in negative and positive terms can help us better understand the political dilemmas we face and point the way forward.
    Maria Dimova-Cookson is Associate Professor in Politics at the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University, UK.
    Yorgos Giannakopoulos (@giannako) is a currently a Junior Research Fellow in Durham University, UK. He is a historian of Modern Britain and Europe. His published research recovers the regional impact of British Intellectuals in Eastern Europe in the age of nationalism and internationalism.
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    • 41 min
    Manuel Heras Escribano, "The Philosophy of Affordances" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019)

    Manuel Heras Escribano, "The Philosophy of Affordances" (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019)

    Ecological psychology is one of a number of contemporary theories that explains the mind in terms of embodiment and environmental situatedness, rather than inner symbol manipulation by brains. J. J. Gibson, a founder ecological psychology, coined the term “affordance” to express a core concept of the view: as embodied, situated organisms we do not simply perceive objects, such as a chair or a tree, but rather we perceive the object as something that is sit-on-able or climbable. In The Philosophy of Affordances (Palgrave MacMillan, 2019), Manuel Heras Escribano elaborates this idea of affordances as directly perceived possibilities for action available to us in an environment. Heras Escribano, a research fellow at the University of the Basque Country, considers the relation of affordances to values, the type of ecological information we perceive, the nature of agency from the ecological psychological perspective, and a political dimension to affordances.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Frederick Beiser, "Hermann Cohen: An Intellectual Biography" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Frederick Beiser, "Hermann Cohen: An Intellectual Biography" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    The eminent scholar of Neo-Kantianism, Frederick Beiser, has struck again, this time bringing his considerable analytical powers and erudition to the task of intellectual biography. For those of you aware of the distinguished philosophical career of Hermann Cohen (1859 - 1918) and the absence of an intellectual biography in English, Beiser’s scholarship is a long time coming. Though Cohen scholarship has experienced a mini-renaissance in the last thirty years in the English speaking world, knowledge of Cohen, his scholarship on Kant, his activity in the Jewish community, and his battle against anti-semitism in Germany has remained largely confined to academic Jewish studies. Fortunately Beiser’s new book Hermann Cohen: An Intellectual Biography (Oxford UP, 2018) commands a broader audience with much to offer historians, philosophers, theologians in addition to Jewish thinkers. In the course of this NBN conversation, Professor Beiser and Avi Bernstein, Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Brandeis University discuss Cohen’s
    • Lifelong quest for a “religion of reason”
    • Effort to “rescue” Kant from psychologists who had misunderstood him
    • Hostility to Spinoza
    • Interest in infinitesimally small quantities
    • Left-of-center Wilhelmine politics
    • System of philosophy
    • Unrequited love affair with German culture
    • Ontological argumentation for God
    Cohen’s posthumously published Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism is left largely unremarked in Beiser’s book, as the author freely admits. With humility Beiser calls on his colleagues in Jewish Studies to go more deeply than he into this “masterpiece” of Cohen’s dotage, for in his estimation the Religion of Reason contains arguments for the idea of God that remain worthy of readers even today.
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    • 56 min
    John Danaher, "Automation and Utopia: Human Flourishing in a World without Work" (Harvard UP, 2019)

    John Danaher, "Automation and Utopia: Human Flourishing in a World without Work" (Harvard UP, 2019)

    The future is a constant focus of anxiety, and we are all familiar with the pressures that come distinctively from automation – the transformation by which tasks formerly assigned to humans come to be performed by machines. These days, the stakes seem to be higher, as technology now seems poised to render nearly all human labor obsolete. What lies in store for us, and for the flourishing and meaning of our lives, once technology has relieved humans of the need to work?
    In Automation and Utopia: Human Flourishing in a World without Work (Harvard University Press, 2019), John Danaher explores the issues facing us as we confront our own obsolescence. He defends the idea that a workless future is not only possible, but possibly utopian.
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    • 1 hr 9 min
    Adriel M. Trott, "Aristotle on the Matter of Form: A Feminist Metaphysics of Generation" (Edinburgh UP, 2019)

    Adriel M. Trott, "Aristotle on the Matter of Form: A Feminist Metaphysics of Generation" (Edinburgh UP, 2019)

    In Aristotle on the Matter of Form: A Feminist Metaphysics of Generation (Edinburgh University Press, 2019), Adriel M. Trott argues for understanding the relationship of matter and form in Aristotle’s work on the model of a Möbius strip. With the figure of the Möbius strip, we can identify two planes at any particular point, but, taking in the figure as a whole, we see that those two sides are produced by a torsion of a continuous strip. Through this figure, Trott allows us to think anew with Aristotle, not just about form and matter, but also body and soul, male and female, and much else. Informed by and responding to feminist engagements with these issues, Trott challenges binary models of these couplets, often attributed to Aristotle, to show us innovative possibilities for thinking how we come to be and what we might become.
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    • 58 min
    Peter Adamson, "Philosophy in the Islamic World: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Volume 3" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Peter Adamson, "Philosophy in the Islamic World: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Volume 3" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    It is no easy task to survey and present a comprehensive history of philosophy of an entire intellectual tradition to a broad public audience without compromising on the scholarly rigor demanded by that history’s nuances. In an ambitious endeavor to do precisely that with the Islamic tradition, Peter Adamson masterfully shows how it can be done. His work, Philosophy in the Islamic World: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps (Oxford University Press, 2018) forms the third volume of a larger series of books comprising Adamson’s oeuvre on the history of philosophy and serves as an excellent starting point for anyone interested in the subject.
    By covering a geographical territory spanning from Spain to South Asia; a temporal chronology running from the formations of philosophy in the Islamic world up to the modern period; and an intellectual arena incorporating Christian and Jewish thinkers; Adamson takes readers on a vivid – and accessible – journey through the intricate landscape of the philosophical world of Islam. In the process, he discusses crucial historical questions around translation movements, decline narratives, and the broader intellectual frameworks that have shaped the contours of how philosophy in the Islamic world has been viewed. From Avicenna to Ibn ‘Arabi, Maimonides to Saadia Gaon, Al-Ghazali to Mulla Sadra, Fatema Mernissi to Muhammad Iqbal, there is never a dull moment as Adamson shows us how these and other thinkers drew from and diverged from one another.
    Divided chronologically into three parts – “The Formative Period,” “Andalusia,” and “Later Traditions – and split into 62 brief chapters, with a generous list of further readings at the end, Adamson’s work will prove to be a useful resource both for the non-specialist seeking to expand their horizons and for the specialist seeking to write and teach on the subject.
    Asad Dandia is a graduate student of Islamic Studies at Columbia University.
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    • 56 min

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