Humanities2014, 3(2), 132-184; doi:10.3390/h3020132 - published online 15 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A theory of the structure and cognitive function of the human imagination that attempts to do justice to traditional intuitions about its psychological centrality is developed, largely through a detailed critique of the theory propounded by Colin McGinn. Like McGinn, I eschew the highly deflationary views of imagination, common amongst analytical philosophers, that treat it either as a conceptually incoherent notion, or as psychologically trivial. However, McGinn fails to develop his alternative account satisfactorily because (following Reid, Wittgenstein and Sartre) he draws an excessively sharp, qualitative distinction between imagination and perception, and because of his flawed, empirically ungrounded conception of hallucination. His arguments in defense of these views are rebutted in detail, and the traditional, passive, Cartesian view of visual perception, upon which several of them implicitly rely, is criticized in the light of findings from recent cognitive science and neuroscience. It is also argued that the apparent intuitiveness of the passive view of visual perception is a result of mere historical contingency. An understanding of perception (informed by modern visual science) as an inherently active process enables us to unify our accounts of perception, mental imagery, dreaming, hallucination, creativity, and other aspects of imagination within a single coherent theoretical framework.
Humanities2014, 3(2), 102-131; doi:10.3390/h3020102 - published online 9 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This article utilizes research concerning assimilation as a heuristic analytical tool through which to understand some of the factors that may have influenced Ruth’s and Naomi’s assimilation (or re-assimilation in Naomi’s case, having returned to Judah) within the Biblical book of Ruth. Initially, analysis of research concerning assimilation, research which originally emerged within the U.S. but has since developed on a larger and more sophisticated scale, is undertaken before the article turns to evaluate the narrative within the book of Ruth in light of the literature from social and cultural anthropology. Such literature considers the impact that family, friendship, and religious networks have on immigration and assimilation. It is suggested that the concept of “ethnic translation” rather than assimilation is more appropriate to the experience represented within the narrative. Furthermore, it is argued that Ruth’s assimilation, or ethnic translation and Naomi’s return migration and re-assimilation (or ethnic re-translation) are assisted greatly by family networks and by religious participation. While primarily a study of Hebrew Bible narrative, the interdisciplinary nature of the article enables it to serve as a springboard for larger reflections, especially in light of the new concept of ethnic translation.
Humanities2014, 3(1), 88-101; doi:10.3390/h3010088 - published online 11 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: University-Community Partnerships have been recognized as a valuable contribution to both the academic community and our cities and towns. In the words of Henry Cisneros, former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Design secretary, “The long-term futures of both the city and the university in this country are so intertwined that one cannot—or perhaps will not—survive without the other.” Increasingly, colleges and university are bringing their time, energy and resources to bear on local problems. They are using their other physical, financial and intellectual capital to facilitate economic development, provide social services, technical assistance and create opportunities for applied research.
Humanities2014, 3(1), 73-87; doi:10.3390/h3010073 - published online 5 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper explores the ways that critics writing in the early nineteenth century developed arguments in favor of what we think of today as the humanities in the face of utilitarian pressures that dismissed the arts as self-indulgent pursuits incapable of addressing real-world problems. Its focus reflects the extent to which the financial crisis in our own day has manifested itself in a jarring shift in research priorities towards applied knowledge: a retrenchment which has foregrounded all over again the question of how to make the case for the value of the humanities. These problems, however, also constitute an important opportunity: a chance to re-imagine our answers to questions about the nature and role of the humanities, their potential benefits to contemporary life, and how we might channel these benefits back into the larger society. The good news is that in many ways, this self-reflexive challenge is precisely what the humanities have always done best: highlight the nature and the force of the narratives that have helped to define how we understand our society—its various pasts and its possible futures—and to suggest the larger contexts within which these issues must ultimately be situated. History repeats itself, but never in quite the same way: knowing more about past debates will provide a crucial basis for moving forward as we position themselves to respond to new social, economic, technological, and cultural challenges during an age of radical change.
Humanities2014, 3(1), 59-70; doi:10.3390/h3010059 - published online 19 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Drawing from a variety of examples in world literature, this paper exposits a pervasive, diachronic literary motif in which an early human—the mythic protohuman—exists superior to contemporary humans, whose greatness is reflected in physical stature and aesthetic form, and whose eventual spiritual “fall” is physically manifested in diminished stature and deformity. Indo-European creation myths, the biblical Genesis, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and Tolkien’s Middle Earth legendaria are examined in support of the thesis that Western literature has recapitulated the mythological notion that the archetypal ancestor possessed a quality and grace that has been slowly lost in time and is represented by a corresponding physical decay. This notion, then, when read as anagogical symbol, serves to furnish society with insights into reiterated social constructs preoccupied with human degeneration and decay, as well as questions about its beliefs concerning humankind’s origin, nature, and destiny.