The Arts and the Definition of the Humanintroduces a novel theory that our selves-our thoughts, perceptions, creativity, and other qualities that make us human-are determined by our place in history, and more particularly by our culture and language. Margolis rejects the idea that any concepts or truths remain fixed and objective through the flow of history and reveals that this theory of the human being (or "philosophical anthropology") as culturally determined and changing is necessary to make sense of art. He shows that a painting, sculpture, or poem cannot have a single correct interpretation because our creation and perception of art will always be mitigated by our historical and cultural contexts. Calling upon philosophers ranging from Parmenides and Plato to Kant, Hegel, and Wittgenstein, art historians from Damisch to Elkins, artists from Van Eyck to Michelangelo to Wordsworth to Duchamp, Margolis creates a philosophy of art interwoven with his philosophical anthropology which pointedly challenges prevailing views of the fine arts and the nature of personhood.
Joseph Margolis, known for his considerable contributions to the philosophy of art and aesthetics, pragmatism, and American philosophy, has focused primarily on the troublesome concepts of culture, history, language, agency, art, interpretation, and the human person or self. For Margolis, the signal problem has always been the same: how can we distinguish between physical nature and human culture? How do these realms relate? The Cultural Space of the Arts and the Infelicities of Reductionism identifies a conceptual tendency that can be drawn from the work of the twentieth century's best-known analytic philosophers of art: Arthur Danto, Richard Wollheim, Kendall Walton, Nelson Goodman, Monroe Beardsley, Noël Carroll, and Jerrold Levinson, among others. This trend threatens to impoverish our grasp and appreciation of the arts by failing to do justice to the culturally informed nature of the arts themselves. Through his analysis, Margolis sets out to retrieve an adequate picture of the essential differences between physical nature and human culture& mdash;particularly through language, history, meaning, significance, the emergence of the human self or person, and the essential features of human life& mdash;all to explain how such difference bears on our perception of paintings and literature. Clearly argued and provocatively engaging, Margolis's work reestablishes what is essential to a productive encounter with art.
Pragmatism Ascendentis the last of four volumes on the contribution of pragmatism to American philosophy and Western philosophy as a whole. It covers the period of American philosophy's greatest influence worldwide, from the second half of the 20th century through the beginning of the 21st. The book provides an account of the way pragmatism reinterprets the revolutionary contributions of Kant and Hegel, the significance of pragmatism's original vision, and the expansion of classic pragmatism to incorporate the strongest themes of Hegelian and Darwinian sources. In the process, it addresses many topics either scanted or not addressed at all in most overviews of the pragmatism's relevance today. Noting the conceptual stalemate, confusion, and inertia of much of current Western philosophy, Margolis advances a new line of inquiry. He considers a fresh conception of the human agent as a hybrid artifact of enlanguaged culture, the decline of all forms of cognitive privilege, the pragmatist sense of the practical adequacy of philosophical solutions, and the possibilities for a recuperative convergence of the best resources of Western philosophy's most viable movements.
Margolis (philosophy, Temple U. ) argues that three seminal works of philosophy superficially commending different directions for Eurocentric philosophy, in hindsight have combined to re-energize pragmatism by offering it new choices. The texts are W. V. Quine's 1960 Word and Object, T. S. Kuhn's 1962 and 1970 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Richard Rorty's 1979 Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. The pragmatism he sees emerging is not the traditional American version, but a multiplicity born through confrontation between Anglo-American and continental thought. In addition to the title chapter, he looks at reclaiming naturalism and vicissitudes of transcendental reason. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
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