books of 2021
2 Critical Lives: Hannah Arendt by Samantha Rose Hill
3 The Case for Rage: Why Anger Is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle by Myisha Cherry
4 Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
5 Coming of Age at the End of History by Lea Ypi
thetimes.co.uk/ 12/2021 16 best philosophy and ideas books 2021 – No Descartes in sight — James Marriott and James McConnachie’s picks take in morals, meritocracy, trans issues and technology
newstatesman.com 2021 Reimagining political philosophy- Charles Mills, who died earlier this year, was a model for a political philosophy engaged with subjects the discipline had systematically ignored, first among them race and racism. By Sophie Smith
commonwealmagazine.org 23/11/2021 Should Philosophy Retire? ‘Pragmatism as Anti-Authoritarianism’ By George Scialabba
“Richard Rorty (1931–2007) was the philosopher’s anti-philosopher. His professional credentials were impeccable: an influential anthology (The Linguistic Turn, 1967); a game-changing book (Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, 1979); another, only slightly less original book (Consequences of Pragmatism, 1982); a best-selling (for a philosopher) collection of literary/philosophical/political lectures and essays (Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 1989); four volumes of Collected Papers from the venerable Cambridge University Press; president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association (1979). He seemed to be speaking at every humanities conference in the 1980s and 1990s, about postmodernism, critical theory, deconstruction, and the past, present, and future (if any) of philosophy…”…
dailynous.com 24/11/2021 New: Journal of Spinoza Studies By Justin Weinberg
The Journal of Spinoza Studies (JSS) is a new, online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that “aims to publish original, innovative scholarly work on any aspect of Spinoza’s thought or its reception, and is committed to promoting a lively exchange of ideas among scholars working in different intellectual and philosophical traditions.” The editors of JSS are Andrea Sangiacomo and Kristin Primus – jss.rug.nl/index
…”…Like all those who publish young, Wittgenstein was doomed to have to change his mind in public. Perhaps afraid of this, he never published another book during his lifetime, though he wrote several, the most notable being Philosophical Investigations (published in 1953, two years after his death), which immediately set up epochs in his canon: early Wittgenstein versus late Wittgenstein. Though his ideas would change radically over time — to the point of disowning most of the Tractatus — his insistence on language as the thing that plugs us into reality remained the linchpin of his pensée. The Tractatus then was not the end of Wittgenstein’s philosophy but its point of departure…”…
iai.tv/articles/ 1978 10 questions ignored by philosophy World Philosophy Day 2021
dailynous.com 5/2021 Analytic Philosophy’s “Triple Failure of Confidence” By Justin Weinberg. “Analytic philosophy suffers from a triple failure of confidence, especially among younger philosophers.”
Liam Kofi Bright (LSE) : … “For what I think is gone, and is not coming back, is any hope that from all this will emerge a well-validated and rational-consensus-generating theory of grand topics of interest. We can, and we will, keep generating puzzles for any particular answer given, we will never persuade our colleagues who disagree, we will never finally settle what to say about the simple cases in order to be able to move on to the grand problems of philosophy. My anecdotal impression is that junior philosophers are hyper aware of these bleak prospects for anything like creation of a shared scientific paradigm.”
…”Hegel’s reception in the US has long been complicated. In the mid-to-late 19th century, he was widely read and respected. There were several well-established groups, often heavy with German immigrants, dedicated to Hegel study, such as the Ohio and the St Louis Hegelians. There were prominent Hegelian Idealists in the universities, notably Josiah Royce at Harvard and G Watts Cunningham at Cornell. And, perhaps most important, several Pragmatists, especially Charles S Peirce and John Dewey, were influenced by Hegel. (William James was not a Hegel fan.) Then the reaction set in. It started in England, with Bertrand Russell and G E Moore’s revolt against the British Idealists, but the Americans picked up the banner and then doubled down on the rejection of Hegel with the infusion of logical positivists escaping Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Anglophone philosophy turned against Hegel for several reasons. His philosophy was seen as the epitome of a grand metaphysical system purporting to lay out a priori the fundamental structure of reality, which turned out to be mental, or in Hegel’s vocabulary, spiritual – something like a world soul, or (even worse), a Spinozistic, pantheistic God. Thus, not only was Hegel’s system grandiose metaphysics, it was grandiose theology as well. Hegel also defended a holism that conflicted with the atomism (and the foundationalistic theory of knowledge) that comes naturally with empiricism and which seemed to be a lesson taught by modern science. Hegel’s philosophy opposed the antimetaphysical, atomistic, foundationalist and empiricist bent of Anglophone philosophy, which was also increasingly secular in orientation.
At a slightly less abstract level, Anglophone philosophy had become enamoured of the developments in logic initiated by George Boole, Gottlob Frege, and Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. Investigations into logic, generalised into the philosophy of language, became first philosophy in Anglophone lands. From this perspective, Hegel’s logic (arguably the heart of his philosophy) was either terribly retrograde or, in all its talk about dialectic, hardly intelligible. And last, the obscurity of Hegel’s writing made rejecting Hegelian philosophy all the easier. After all, who could tell what he was actually saying?
The renaissance in Hegel appreciation that has bloomed in the past few decades in the US responds to most of these complaints. It has been led by Robert Pippin, Terry Pinkard, and Ken Westphal. Most recently, Robert B Brandom’s massive volume on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), called A Spirit of Trust (2019), has gone beyond Hegel interpretation to elaborate a philosophy that, while still rooted in the philosophy of language, also reclaims Hegel as a (maybe even the) seminal forebear. …”…
…”Musonius was millennia ahead of society in his defence of gender equality. Here is what he says about women and the ability to think rationally:
Women as well as men … have received from the gods the gift of reason, which we use in our dealings with one another and by which we judge whether a thing is good or bad, right or wrong … Moreover, not men alone, but women too, have a natural inclination toward virtue and the capacity for acquiring it, and it is the nature of women no less than men to be pleased by good and just acts and to reject the opposite of these.
This is rather stunning for someone who was alive in the 1st century of the modern era, but it was actually common opinion among the Stoics (and the Epicureans)…”…
History of Ideas
amazon.co.uk The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea Arthur O. Lovejoy
From later antiquity down to the close of the eighteenth century, most philosophers and men of science and, indeed, most educated men, accepted without question a traditional view of the plan and structure of the world. In this volume, which embodies the William James lectures for 1933, Arthur O. Lovejoy points out the three principles—plenitude, continuity, and graduation—which were combined in this conception; analyzes their origins in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and the Neoplatonists; traces the most important of their diverse samifications in subsequent religious thought, in metaphysics, in ethics and aesthetics, and in astronomical and biological theories; and copiously illustrates the influence of the conception as a whole, and of the ideas out of which it was compounded, upon the imagination and feelings as expressed in literature.
greaterkashmir.com 11/2021 The Philosopher who laid the foundation of Modern Europe – A critical re-examination of over four centuries of work put forth Averroes at the highest pedestal of Aristotelian expression by Sheikh Muzamil Hussain
It is 1492 and Christopher Columbus is preparing to sail from the Spanish port of Palos de la Frontera, hoping to find a new world towards west, the riches of which are thought unprecedented. The same year, the remnants of 700-year-old Muslim rule in Andalusia, the Islamic Spain, are on verge of collapse. The Christian Reconquista is almost at the climax and the Almoravids are set to lose the stronghold of Granada, the last fortress of Muslims in southern Spain.
While the seeds of European colonialism were being sown in the far west, mainland Europe after an aeon of dark ages was foraging tools of scientific method, courtesy of two centuries of scholasticism that revived its intellectual atmosphere. It was here three centuries ago in 1128 AD, in the cosmopolitan capital city of Al- Andalus — Cordoba, that Abul Walid Muhammad Ibn Rushd was born, commonly referred to in West by his Latinized name — Averroes. He was born in family of Jurists but his affair with philosophy soon began to cause him trouble and he fell into trouble. He subsequently left Cordoba and migrated to the city of Lucena where he dedicated his time to writing exhaustive works of Philosophical tradition. Later he would move further south to Marrakesh where he died in 1198 AD.
The fall of Muslim Spain has been subject of ‘foretold reprimand by God’ for a nation that contrives on the use of mantiq and falsafa — Logic and Philosophy — instead of the revealed text. In orthodox circles, the rational means to demonstrate the fundamentals of religion which Ibn Rushd and its predecessors attempted, are seen as a deviation from truth that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the form of the Qur’an. But to most of the Muslim philosophers of the Islamic golden age, it wasn’t so. Ibn Rushd believed that ‘One truth’ (Revealed religion) cannot contradict another truth (Philosophical Inquiry). Nonetheless, such belief was paradoxical to theologians as well as common believers.
Ibn Rushd mastered Aristotle and translated his copious works and simultaneously presented and ‘improved on’ his thought. The works of Aristotle were translated by the fall of the 13th century into Latin making him the bridge of knowledge transfusion between the Islamic World and Europe, which was recuperating from centuries of intellectual inactivity. He became the leading teacher for those who explored Peripatetic philosophy. Emerging centers of learning taught him, scholastics quoted him and revered him. Raphael’s (d.1520) famous renaissance painting, ‘The School of Athens’ bears testimony to this by portraying Ibn Rushd along with Plato and Aristotle. Dante Alighieri (d.1321) had Ibn Rushd secured the position in the ‘limbo of the unbaptized’ in his famous work Inferno along with Plato and Aristotle among others, away from hellfire.
Along with Al-Farabi (d.950) and Ibn Sina (d.980 ), Ibn Rushd is among the major Islamic thinkers who shaped the course of logic and philosophy in the Islamic World by the tools expounded by the Greek philosophers. However, by the time he was born, Greek Philosophy, which had made lasting inroads in the Muslim world since the opening of the House of Wisdom (Bait-ul-Hikmah) during the reign of Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid (d. 809), had suffered hugely at the hands of Muhammad al-Ghazali (d. 1111) whose Tahafut al-Falasifa, or The Incoherence of Philosophers had swayed a deathly blow to the advancing Greek Philosophy. Ibn Rushd wrote a line by line refutation of the Tahafut called the Tahaful al-Tahafat — The Incoherence of the Incoherence, but the damage was already done.
Apart from the natural cravings to seek wisdom and knowledge; as Immanuel Kant said ‘that everyone has an urge to philosophize’, Ibn Rushd was also influenced to pursue Aristotle by the Almohad King Abu Yaqub Yusuf (d.1184) who was an avid reader of philosophical texts especially ones by Aristotle. However, by that time, the tradition of Aristotle was altered to an extent, due to multiple translations across space and time, copying errors and interpolation. The available wholesale corpus was in no sense a credible source of his actual work. Irritated, the King asked Ibn Rushd to parse through all translations and pen down the authentic corpus anew. The critical re-examination of over four centuries of work put forth Averroes at the highest pedestal of Aristotelian expression ever since.
Ibn Rushd’s contribution to European development of thought can be gauged, among many reasons, by the fact that much of his work despite being written in Arabic originally, came to pass to later generations in Hebrew and Latin translations implying the propagation his work enjoyed in European lands. His ideas gained root, but not where he would have had anticipated. There were impediments like the Bishop Trempier’s Condemnation of 1277, an effort to set loose the perpetuity of philosophy with Christianity, much like as Muslim world had witnessed post-Ghazali’s Incoherence. But Averroes’s work endured, more in Hebrew than in Latin, reaching as far as the time of Spinoza (d.1677).
Aristotle is called the first genuine scientist for his method and deductive reasoning and hadn’t it been for Ibn Rushd’s stupendous and gargantuan translation of his works, supplemented with Ibn Rushd’s likewise massive commentaries, which in fact consisted his original thought as well, Europe’s infatuation with The Philosopher would have been delayed, if not entirely hampered. Moreover, the quality of Ibn Rushd’s translations were unmatched. In total, he wrote 38 books of commentaries on the works of Aristotle.
Ibn Rushd soon became a prominent figure in the European philosophy and was known as The Commentator, the epithet for being the most credible source of Aristotle, whom Ibn Rushd like most, used to call The Philosopher. In the Islamic World however or as Historian Peter Adamson prefers, the Arabic philosophical world, no interest was bestowed upon him since the heretical nature of Greek Philosophy was shunned, primarily in the Sunni circles.
Ibn Rushd wrote immensely and not just on philosophy. His subjects included astronomy, medicine, law, and physics. As far as his translations of Aristotle are concerned, one can categorize them under three phases — Short, Middle and Long Commentaries, as Richard C. Taylor has classified. Then, are his original treatises which he wrote mostly in the latter half of his life. Major of those are his Decisive Treatise on the Harmony of Religion and Philosophy (Fasl al-maqal fima bayn al sharia wal-hikma min ittisal), the Explanation of the Sorts of Proofs in the Doctrines of Religion ( Kashf ‘an manahij al-adilla), De Anima or Appendix on Divine Knowledge and his famous Incoherence of the Incoherence ( Tahafut al-tahafut).
His philosophical convictions, much like his fellow Aristotelian thinkers composed of believing in the eternity of the world and the impossibility of the physical resurrection. A unique postulate of his met a good share of hostility, alike from religious and philosophical blocks, that there is a sort of universal intellect from which individuals procure capacity to reason. He had probably taken the concepts of ‘Agent Intellect’ and ‘Material Intellect’ from earlier Muslim thinkers, most notably the esteemed Andalusian Ibn Bajja (d. 1138) and Al-Farabi (d.950). As a Jurist, his most notable work probably was the Decisive treatise written in a legal judgment style (Fatwa). He concluded that not only was the pursuit of philosophy encouraged but even obligatory (only for those who possessed high intellect). To buttress his argument, he cited Quranic verses such as “Learn a lesson, then, O you who are endowed with insight!” (59:2) and “Then do they not look at the camels — how they are created? And at the sky — how it is raised?” (88:17–18). He also denied the literal interpretation of the Quranic verses about recompenses of the afterlife.
He was an ardent critic of the dialectic weakness of Ashʿarite theology and their inability to field demonstrative tools to supplement their proclamations. Theologians lack the clarity of argument because they presuppose the existence of a transcendental super-being and all whatever is established by the sound tradition of the religion. Their tendency to favour these presuppositions ahead of reasoning was to Ibn Rushd their major shortcoming due to which they had to rely completely on rhetorical argumentation to persuade their opponents. This, in fact, is the main difference between a theologian and a philosopher, he argues.
Today he is little known in the Islamic World, except for those who take pains to find him in the oblivion of forgotten masters. He was once a chief judge and the court physician to Almohad Kings. After the fall of Muslim Spain, the philosophic tradition faded in the Islamic world, though the same cannot be said for the theological philosophy which continued to thrive. Influence of theological philosophers like Al- Suhrawardi (d.1191) and Mulla Sadra (d.1640) bears testament to that fact. But it was in Europe where he gained prominence and even had an emulation in the form of a philosophic school known as the ‘Latin Averriosts’. He paved the way for rational methodology through his works which became the new normal in the coming centuries, pushing Europe stepping into the Age of Enlightenment.
Sheikh Muzamil Hussain is an architect and urban planner. He is an alumnus of CEPT Ahmedabad.