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Humanities, Volume 1, Issue 3 (December 2012), Pages 117-245

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Research

Open AccessArticle Making Nothing Happen: Yeats, Heidegger, Pessoa, and the Emergence of Post-Romanticism
Humanities 2012, 1(3), 117-144; doi:10.3390/h1030117
Received: 19 August 2012 / Revised: 20 September 2012 / Accepted: 24 September 2012 / Published: 1 October 2012
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Abstract
Through close readings of the work of two major poets of the twentieth century—W.B. Yeats and Fernando Pessoa—this paper identifies and attempts to make sense of an important shift in European modernism away from a broadly Romantic aesthetic toward what might be [...] Read more.
Through close readings of the work of two major poets of the twentieth century—W.B. Yeats and Fernando Pessoa—this paper identifies and attempts to make sense of an important shift in European modernism away from a broadly Romantic aesthetic toward what might be called “post-Romanticism.” Taking its cue from W.H. Auden’s “In Memory of W.B. Yeats,” where having stated that “poetry makes nothing happen” he asserts that it survives as “a way of happening,” and drawing on the philosophy of Heidegger and Jean-Luc Nancy, this paper argues that this shift from Romanticism to post-Romanticism hinges on a deep metaphysical reconceptualization of poetry understood as poiesis. In light of this reassessment of the aesthetics and philosophical affinities of poetic modernism, it is argued that post-Romanticism should be understood as offering a modest, salutary, phenomenological re-acquaintance with our involvement with the everyday world, in sharp contrast to the transcendental ambitions of the Romantic aesthetic that preceded it. Full article
Open AccessArticle Illuminating Our World: An Essay on the Unraveling of the Species Problem, with Assistance from a Barnacle and a Goose
Humanities 2012, 1(3), 145-165; doi:10.3390/h1030145
Received: 18 July 2012 / Revised: 27 September 2012 / Accepted: 8 October 2012 / Published: 15 October 2012
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Abstract
In order to plan for the future, we must understand the past. This paper investigates the manner in which both naturalists and the wider community view one of the most intriguing of all questions: what makes a species special? Consideration is given [...] Read more.
In order to plan for the future, we must understand the past. This paper investigates the manner in which both naturalists and the wider community view one of the most intriguing of all questions: what makes a species special? Consideration is given to the essentialist view—a rigid perspective and ancient, Aristotelian perspective—that all organisms are fixed in form and nature. In the middle of the 19th century, Charles Darwin changed this by showing that species are indeed mutable, even humans. Advances in genetics have reinforced the unbroken continuum between taxa, a feature long understood by palaeontologists; but irrespective of this, we have persisted in utilizing the ‘species concept’—a mechanism employed primarily to understand and to manipulate the world around us. The vehicles used to illustrate this journey in perception are the barnacle goose (a bird), and the goose barnacle (a crustacean). The journey of these two has been entwined since antiquity—in folklore, religion, diet and even science. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanity’s Future)
Open AccessArticle Human Actions Illustrated in Zen’s Ox-Herding Pictures
Humanities 2012, 1(3), 166-177; doi:10.3390/h1030166
Received: 3 September 2012 / Revised: 10 October 2012 / Accepted: 11 October 2012 / Published: 17 October 2012
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Abstract
The enlightenment from Zen’s perspective is the experiences of action that reveal a horizon of new consciousness. This event of enlightenment is the process of action rather than the outcome of action. Therefore, actions are not just the means to enlightenment but [...] Read more.
The enlightenment from Zen’s perspective is the experiences of action that reveal a horizon of new consciousness. This event of enlightenment is the process of action rather than the outcome of action. Therefore, actions are not just the means to enlightenment but the very core of it. The actions of enlightenment from Zen’s perspective cannot be adequately described and explained in logical terms. Unlike most other Buddhist schools, Zen does not engage in extensive philosophical discourses; its classical literatures are mostly artistic in nature, consisting of collections of koans, poetry, and paintings, etc. The ten ox-herding pictures of Zen Buddhism are recognized as the classical illustration of Zen’s spiritual journey, as it vividly depicts the practice of Zen in a poetic and metaphorical way. They present a visual parable of the path to enlightenment in a narrative sequence of a boy’s searching, seeing, wrestling, riding, and transcending of the ox. Full article
Open AccessArticle Alone in the Void: Getting Real about the Tenuous and Fragile Nature of Modern Civilization
Humanities 2012, 1(3), 178-191; doi:10.3390/h1030178
Received: 23 October 2012 / Revised: 12 November 2012 / Accepted: 19 November 2012 / Published: 28 November 2012
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Abstract
It is estimated that roughly seventy billion human beings have lived out their lives on planet earth. It is very unlikely that any of the seven billion currently enjoying this planet will be living out the rest of their life any place [...] Read more.
It is estimated that roughly seventy billion human beings have lived out their lives on planet earth. It is very unlikely that any of the seven billion currently enjoying this planet will be living out the rest of their life any place else. Nonetheless, many of our movies and much of our literature envisions easy space travel that is scientifically unrealistic. On July 24th, 2012 Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy, wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times titled: Alone in the Void. This article posited that humanity (Homo sapiens) lives on a planet that is, for all intents and purposes, alone in a vast empty space. Reader comments to this editorial ranged from people who were very confident we were destined to colonize other galaxies to people who had little faith that humanity would even exist on the earth one hundred years from now. The reader’s responses mirror dominant and minority world views of economic theory. The dominant neo-classical economic paradigm is optimistic and growth oriented with faith in technological solutions to pressing social and environmental problems; whereas, the minority paradigm of ecological economics posits a need to move toward a steady state economy governed by the laws of thermodynamics as the preferred path for human progress. I side with ecological economics regarding what collective choices will result in a better future for humanity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanity’s Future)
Figures

Open AccessArticle Plato’s and Aristotle’s Language Critique in Francisco Sanchez’s That Nothing Is Known
Humanities 2012, 1(3), 192-204; doi:10.3390/h1030192
Received: 27 August 2012 / Revised: 24 November 2012 / Accepted: 28 November 2012 / Published: 6 December 2012
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Abstract
In That Nothing Is Known, Francisco Sanchez created a very interesting reflection on the analysis of language and on the epistemic consequences of the importance of language. He did so in a way that allowed some scholars to consider him a [...] Read more.
In That Nothing Is Known, Francisco Sanchez created a very interesting reflection on the analysis of language and on the epistemic consequences of the importance of language. He did so in a way that allowed some scholars to consider him a predecessor of analytic philosophy. The Spanish physician believed that language had a leading role within science, but he also thought that language was a weak foundation upon which to build any attempt of knowledge. Full article
Open AccessArticle The Consequences of Human Behavior
Humanities 2012, 1(3), 205-228; doi:10.3390/h1030205
Received: 26 October 2012 / Revised: 26 November 2012 / Accepted: 27 November 2012 / Published: 10 December 2012
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Abstract
Human behavior is founded on a complex interaction of influences that derive from sources both extraneous and intrinsic to the brain. It is the ways these various influences worked together in the past to fashion modern human cognition that can help elucidate [...] Read more.
Human behavior is founded on a complex interaction of influences that derive from sources both extraneous and intrinsic to the brain. It is the ways these various influences worked together in the past to fashion modern human cognition that can help elucidate the probable course of future human endeavor. A particular concern of this chapter is the way cognition has been shaped and continues to depend on prevailing environmental and ecological conditions. Whether the human predicament can be regarded simply as another response to such conditions similar to that of other organisms or something special will also be addressed. More specifically, it will be shown that, although the highly artificial niche in which most humans now live has had profound effects on ways of thinking, constraints deriving from a shared evolutionary heritage continue to have substantial effects on behavior. The way these exigencies interact will be explored in order to understand the implications for the future wellbeing of humanity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanity’s Future)
Open AccessArticle On the Apparent Differences between Contemporary Pragmatists: Richard Rorty and the New Pragmatism
Humanities 2012, 1(3), 229-245; doi:10.3390/h1030229
Received: 16 October 2012 / Revised: 3 December 2012 / Accepted: 5 December 2012 / Published: 17 December 2012
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Abstract
Throughout its history pragmatism has been criticised for failing to account for the roles truth and objectivity play in our lives and inquiries. Pragmatists have long sought to guard against this objection, but recently some proponents have identified a form of pragmatism [...] Read more.
Throughout its history pragmatism has been criticised for failing to account for the roles truth and objectivity play in our lives and inquiries. Pragmatists have long sought to guard against this objection, but recently some proponents have identified a form of pragmatism which they think is deficient in the manner identified by its critics. This has led them to claim that pragmatism should be understood as falling into two distinct varieties, and to argue for the superiority of the one over the other. In this paper I argue that behind the apparent differences between contemporary pragmatists lies greater agreement than is commonly thought. Taking Richard Rorty to represent what some find unattractive in their philosophy, I claim that there is little if any substantive difference between pragmatists about the concepts of truth and objectivity. Further, Rorty’s work shows that it is misleading to distinguish pragmatists in terms of whether they highlight the constraints imposed by social practices or whether they seek to free us from such constraint; properly understood, freedom and constraint are a necessary condition of one another. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)

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