Now showing 1 - 9 of 9
  • Publication
    Hegel's conceptions of mediation
    (Cambridge University Press, 1999)
    Given its centrality to the intellectual thought processes through which the great structures of logic, nature, and spirit are unfolded it is clear that mediation is vital to the very possibility of Hegel's encyclopaedic philosophy. Yet Hegel gives little specific explanation of the concept of mediation. Surprisingly, it has been the subject of even less attention by scholars of Hegel. Nevertheless it is casually used in discussions of Hegel and post-Hegelian philosophy as though its meaning were simple and straightforward. In these discussions mediation is the thesis that meanings are not atomic in that the independence of something is inseparable from its relation to something else. Hence being is mediated by nothing, the particular by the universal, the individual by society. But does Hegel ever explain mediation in a way which justifies such use of the concept? The same easy employment of mediation is found in Theodor Adorno whose works are replete with the use of this concept and, indeed, acknowledgements of its Hegelian origin. But the concept of mediation in Adorno's negative dialectic is operative in an entirely different context from that of Hegel. How, it might be asked, can a concept be so adaptable? I want to argue that mediation is, in fact, an equivocal term which in both Hegel and Adomo covers a variety of entirely different conceptual relations. Furthermore, as propounded by both Hegel and Adorno it lacks the rigour which could allow the particular conclusions which the concept allegedly facilitates.
  • Publication
    Adorno's Reconception of the Dialectic
    (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011-04-21)
    Adorno’s work contains a number of radical criticisms of Hegel that reveal deep philosophical differences between the two philosophers. He represents Hegel’s philosophy as directed, ultimately, against particularity and individual experience. The core motivation of Hegel’s philosophy, Adorno argues, is a concern with system and universality. Conceived in this way it is antagonistic to the idea of non-identity, the very idea that lies at the centre of Adorno’s philosophical project.
  • Publication
    Freud on the Death Drive as Existence without Tension
    (Guilford Press, 2016-06)
    Freud's notion of the death drive is complex and arguably ambiguous. This paper, however, proposes that Freud's thoughts on our organic dynamic towards tensionlessness provide us with a cohesive path through the diverse characteristics that are attributed to the death drive. The paper shows that Freud is interested in giving expression to a kind of disavowal of personhood that may present itself symptomatically. A tensionless state can be gained by a dynamic release of the individual from the pressures of the ego. This study critically sets out the line of analysis that brought Freud, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, to introduce the notion of the death drive. The main work of the paper is to examine the meaning of the very idea of death as tensionlessness. A central contention will be that death has a figurative meaning when it is discussed in that context: it is the death of the ego. The idea of death as tensionlessness will be employed to explore a number of clinical interpretations of the relationship between the death drive and neurotic guilt and envy.
      1540Scopus© Citations 3
  • Publication
    German Idealism and Normativity
    (Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2009-02)
    A defining commitment of that group of philosophers labelled the German Idealists is that experience is not explicable as natural stimulus and response. Rather, experience is infused with rules which are to be understood as determinations of reason. What this means, essentially, is that our experience of the world bears the characteristics of determinations that, precisely as the products of reason, are attributable to human beings. These determinations of reason act as constraints on behaviour and on knowledge, yet these are, in effect, constraints that we give to ourselves. It is this idea to which the famous thesis of the autonomy of reason refers: reason is not grounded in nature and nor is it part of the chain of material causality.
      329Scopus© Citations 1
  • Publication
    Ethical Theory
    (Routledge, 2014-06-30)
    The word “ethics” is commonly taken to be a synonym for morality. In more formal contexts it serves as the name for codified conduct that governs individuals by virtue of their voluntary membership of particular institutions or professions. Although both of these significances are encompassed within Hegel’s conception of ethics he intends a yet broader meaning for it. The German word Hegel uses is Sittlichkeit, a word that is sometimes translated into English as morality as well as ethics. The stem of Sittlichkeit is Sitte, meaning customs and suggesting practices that partly form ongoing ways of life. In Hegel’s philosophy the sphere of ethics concerns both the actions of the individual moral agent and the normative environment that gives those actions their moral value. Considerations of ethics in its moral philosophical and its political institutional contexts cannot therefore be adequately treated in isolation from each other. It is of crucial importance in understanding Hegel’s ethics that his claim about the inextricability of the moral agent from its ethical environment runs much deeper than the notion that the community simply furnishes the agent with sets of approved or disapproved options. It says that we are constitutively communal beings whose judgments about the preferability of one choice over another are already influenced by our communal situation.
  • Publication
    On the Mimesis of Reification: Adorno's Critical Theoretical Interpretation of Kafka
    (Lexington Books, 2013-06-17)
    One of the most central concepts of Adorno’s aesthetic theory is that of mimesis. It is, perhaps, surprising to find this concept – so deeply associated with a debate in ancient philosophy – employed in the context of a new theory of aesthetic modernism, one conceived within the intellectual space of critical theory. And it is not only its archaic associations that appear to make it an unlikely way of capturing the specific properties of modernism. Mimesis carries with it connotations of imitation and representation. It has something to do with art’s supposed mission, that of copying reality. Yet these are the traditional norms of aesthetic production that modernism self-consciously and often polemically repudiated. Mimesis, however, is an evolving concept. As Jacques Derrida notes: “The whole history of the interpretation of the arts of letters has moved and been transformed within the diverse logical possibilities opened up by the concept of mimesis.”
  • Publication
    Philosophy of History
    (Acumen Publishing (Routledge), 2008-06)
    The concept of history was developed in a great array of directions during the period of Modern German Philosophy. Ranging from macrostructural analyses of the evolution of civilizations to descriptions of the temporal social experience of the individual it was essentially a critical concept, one which would seek to expose the allegedly naïve idea of the fixed properties of culture and of the individuals who might live within them. Adorno belongs to this tradition of critical historical philosophy. His philosophy of history is strongly marked by various Hegelian, Marxian, Nietzschean and hermeneutical ideas. A preoccupation with the idea of history is evident from the very beginnings of Adorno’s career. From his Habilitationsschrift (1931) right up to Aesthetic Theory (incomplete at the time of his death in 1969) the issue is never far from central. To deal comprehensively with the range of influences and the multiplicity of applications of the concept of history in Adorno’s work would be co-extensive with a critical analysis of his oeuvre. What this chapter will restrict itself to is Adorno’s engagements with what might be specifically regarded as ‘theories of history.’ The topics to be examined are Adorno’s critique of (1) the idea of universal history and (2) of progress, (3) his dialectical reading of the idea of natural history, and (4) his assessment of role of the totality in the production of history.
      301Scopus© Citations 1
  • Publication
    Mental Disorder as a Practical Psychiatric Kind
    (John Hopkins University Press, 2017-12)
    This paper proposes that mental disorders are best conceived as practical psychiatric kinds. This means understanding them as the products of psychiatric practice. The practical psychiatric kinds approach emphasizes the fundamentally normative rather than natural structure of mental disorders. The paper critically considers an earlier biologically oriented effort to eliminate categories of mental disorder. It also assesses efforts both to take a 'balanced view' of mental disorders as equally causal and social kinds and to retain categories of mental disorder by finding the right supporting natural kinds based theory. These assessments lead to the contention that psychiatric kinds are practical, geared toward successful living and oriented towards individuated needs. The practical psychiatric kinds thesis provides an alternative way of entering into a social critical evaluation of the normative dimension of mental disorders today.
      484Scopus© Citations 4
  • Publication
    The phenomenology of everyday expertise and the emancipatory interest
    (Sage, 2013-11-01)
    This is a critical theoretical investigation of Hubert Dreyfus' 'phenomenology of everyday expertise' (PEE). Operating mainly through the critical perspective of the 'emancipatory interest' the article takes issue with the contention that when engaged in expert action human beings are in non-deliberative, reason-free absorption. The claim of PEE that absorbed actions are not amenable to reconstruction places those actions outside the space of reasons. The question of acting under the wrong reasons -- the question upon which the emancipatory interest rests -- is thereby rendered groundless. A further difficulty for the emancipatory interest is the elimination by PEE of reflective agency. Framing expert action as perception- and affordance-driven, PEE diminishes practical reasoning. Furthermore, it understands freedom -- consistently with its notion of action as affordance -- as primarily the capacity of human beings to submit themselves to processes rather than to step back reflectively from them. Several criticisms of the philosophical delimitations created by methodology of PEE -- phenomenology -- are also developed.