Sunday, April 03, 2005

Let's finish up that Labyrinth order I was telling you about

David L. Hall and Michael Ruse, eds., The Philosophy of Biology (Oxford 1998)

This is from the Oxford Readings in Philosophy series, all of which (that I've seen) are excellent, although some of them are a little dated by now. Normally they have 12-15 essays or so; this one has 36 and is 772 pages long. Sections are: Adaptation, Development, Units of Selection, Function, Species, Human Nature, Altruism, The Human Genome Project, Progress, and Creationism. That last one, though, is just a back-and-forth between Alvin Plantinga and Ernan McMullin which, although two of the three essays have different titles, looks suspiciously similar to a corresponding exchange in Pennock's Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics (MIT 2001), which is a very good collection itself (and which I got for like 7 bucks at Labyrinth last year). Onto the shelf!

Moving right along, now we have:

Richard Eldridge - The Persistence of Romanticism (Cambridge 2001)

12 essays in a slim 251 pp., this entry in Cambridge's Modern European Philosophy series discusses "Romantic thinking in the work of Kant, Hölderlin, Wordsworth, Hardy [Thomas, not Oliver], Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Updike." That's right, Updike: "Plights of Embodied Soul: Dramas of Sin and Salvation in Augustine and Updike". I took Eldridge's undergrad class in Aesthetics at Swarthmore (some time ago), and he's a very bright guy. The essays are described as "challenging" and I'm sure that's right - E is very influenced by Cavell (he edited the volume on Cavell in the Cambridge series that includes the Dennett book I got), and it shows both in his Romanticism and his carefully sculpted prose (although Cavell's stop-and-start style is harder to read). I also have his book on Wittgenstein (Leading a Human Life), and I'll probably read that first - so onto the shelf with this one, next to the also (mostly) unread Andrew Bowie books!

Wow, only two to go. The next one is:

M. Wrathall and J. Malpas, eds. - Heidegger, Authenticity, and Modernity (MIT Press, 2000)

This is volume 1 of a Festschrift for noted Heidegger scholar Hubert Dreyfus (the cover picture shows him in his convertible). This volume centers more on Heidegger - the other one, which I already have, has stuff on AI (he's a prominent critic, from the phenomenological angle (duh) - see What Computers Can't Do). Many big Heidegger names here (not Olafson though). Onto the shelf with the rest of the Heidegger stuff, of which I sure have a lot for someone who hasn't read any of it - there must be 15 books there.

The last one is:

Brian Massumi - A User's Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia (MIT Press, 1992)

C&S is, of course, Deleuze and Guattari's two-volume set, Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. In this collaboration, as I see it, Deleuze is the philosophical muscle, but (my guess is - they don't say) Guattari contributes a lot of the more striking images (e.g., the rhizome), so that's something to be said for starting with C&S. Unfortunately, he also contributes the obsession with dethroning Freud, which seems less to the point than the stuff in, say, Deleuze's own Difference and Repetition (which is, alas, impenetrable for me at present - maybe later). Massumi seems torn between the desire to explain it in English (which would be nice) and, on the other hand, to match it in sheer over-the-topness: "But: There was that mysterious big white thing with a dark spot in the middle with a darker spot in the middle of that. And it kept coming back. Was that God? Couldn't have been. It was only Mother. Then again: that spot looked an awful lot like the pupil in Christ's deeply caring big blue suffering eye. We all know that he was white. [long footnote]" Holy frijoles! (Onto the shelf.)

And we're done! Until next time -

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