Bshp conferences 2 [4] Other Conferences and Calls for Papers

Download 232.42 Kb.
Size232.42 Kb.
British Society

for the History

of Philosophy
New Series: Vol. 5, 2000
Table of Contents
From the Chair 1 [3 in this rtf version]
BSHP Conferences 2 [4]
Other Conferences and Calls for Papers 6 [8]
Other News 11 [13]

BSHP Chair 11 [13]

BSHP Treasurer and Membership Secretary 11 [13]

BSHP Secretary 11 [13]

BSHP Website 12 [14]

BSHP Publications 12 [14]

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 [15]

BSHP 2001 AGM 16 [18]

Book Reviews 17 [19]
Books Received 24 [26]
BSHP E-mail Addresses 27 [29]
Obituary 33 [35]
Forms for Use by Members 35 [36]

BSHP Membership Application/Renewal Form 35 [36]



(New Series)

Published by The British Society for the History of Philosophy
Editor: Professor Enrique Chávez-Arvizo
Department of Art, Music and Philosophy

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The City University of New York

899 Tenth Avenue

New York, NY 10019-1029, USA

Tel: +1 (212) 237-8347

Fax: +1 (212) 237-8901


The Newsletter of the British Society for the History of Philosophy, is published once a year.

Each annual volume contains the programs of the BSHP conferences, other conferences, membership lists, news of the society, and announcements of interest to members working in the area of the history of philosophy. Other items of interest to BSHP members may be included by decision of the Editor or the BSHP committee.

The Newsletter is distributed to members of the BSHP as benefit of membership. A BSHP Membership Application form can be found at the end of this Newsletter. Newsletter yearly subscriptions for libraries, departments, and institutions are available at £10.00.

All Newsletter contributions should be sent to the Editor by e-mail or in a 3.5’ computer disk accompanied by a printed copy. Contributions via fax or regular mail may be sent only with the prior consent of the Editor.

Current Officers of the Society:

Chair: Dr. Sarah Hutton (Hertfordshire); Secretary: Dr. Maria Rosa Antognazza (Aberdeen); Treasurer/Membership Secretary: Dr. Nick Unwin (Bolton); Journal Editor: Prof. John Rogers (Keele); Website Editor: Dr. Michael Beaney (Open); and the Newsletter Editor.
Visit the BSHP website at:
Copyright © 2000 by Enrique Chávez Arvizo c/o The British Society for the History of Philosophy. All rights reserved.

ISSN 0951-5151

Design and Typesetting by Enrique Chávez-Arvizo.

Printed in New York City.

From the BSHP Chair
With growth in use of the internet, the Society’s website is increasingly important as a source of information about the Society and its activities. We have now appointed a website officer. We are grateful to Dr. Michael Beaney for taking on this role. The current web address is Members are encouraged to visit the website for regular up-datings on the Society’s activities. In line with this shift in communication patterns, there will be only one issue of the Newsletter each year. It will continue to be edited by Professor Enrique Chávez-Arvizo.
Dr. Nick Unwin has taken over from Dr. Michael Beaney as Treasurer of the Society. Nick has responsibility for subscriptions, including members’ subscriptions to the British Journal for the History of Philosophy. Members are entitled to a substantial discount when they subscribe to the Journal through the Society. The Journal is now being published by Taylor and Francis. If any members have not receive the copies for which they have subscribed, they should contact Nick Unwin (e-mail:
Dr. Maria Rosa Antognazza ( recently became the Secretary of the Society. We express our gratitude to our previous Secretary, Dr. Martin Stone..
The Committee of Management of the Society welcomes suggestions for future conferences. Please contact the Chair (e-mail:
BSHP Conferences

Further details and updates of all forthcoming BSHP conferences are available on the BSHP website at:
1.- The Scottish Enlightenment in its European Context
University of Glasgow

3-6 April, 2001

The BSHP 2001 AGM will take place during this conference.

This conference will be held as part of the University of Glasgow’s 550th anniversary celebration.
Plenary speakers include:

Alexander Broadie (University of Glasgow)

Knud Haakonssen (University of Boston)

Manfred Kuehn (University of Marburg)

Daniel Schulthess (University of Neuchâtel)

M.A. Stewart (University of Lancaster)

Conference organizers:

Prof. Alexander Broadie,

Prof. Richard Stalley,

and Dr. Susan Stuart

Department of Philosophy

University of Glasgow

Glasgow, G12 8QQ

Tel.: +44 (0141) 330 5692

Tel.: +44 (0141) 330 5693

Fax: +44 (0141) 330 4112


2.- Hobbes

25 May, 2001

A one-day conference to mark the 350th anniversary of the publication of Hobbes’ Leviathan.
Conference Organizer:

Professor Tom Sorell

Wivenhoe Park

University of Essex

Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ

Tel.: +44 (01206) 872708

Fax: +44 (01206) 873377


3.- Analytic Philosophy and the History of Philosophy
Spring 2002

The BSHP 2001 AGM will take place during this conference.

Conference organizers:
Professor G.A.J. Rogers

Department of Philosophy

University of Keele

Keele, Staffs. ST5 5BG

Tel.: +44 (01782) 583303/4

Fax: +44 (01782) 583399

Professor Tom Sorell

Wivenhoe Park

University of Essex

Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ

Tel.: +44 (01206) 872708

Fax: +44 (01206) 873377


4.- Christianity and the History of Philosophy (Past Conference)
University of Keele

6-9 April, 2000

Conference organizers:

Professor Stuart Brown (Open University)

Professor John Rogers (Keele)

Dr. Martin Stone (King’s College, London)

Please direct inquiries to:
Professor Stuart Brown

Department of Philosophy

The Open University

Walton Hall

Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

Tel: (01908) 652024

Fax: (01908) 653750


5.- Giordano Bruno: Philosopher of the Renaissance (Past Conference)
University College London

15-16 June, 2000

Organized in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology Studies

and the Centre for Italian Studies of University College London

and the Centro Internazionale di Studi Bruniani
International conference which commemorated the 400th anniversary of Bruno’s death.
Conference organizer:
Professor Hilary Gatti

Dipartimento di Ricerche Storico-Filosofiche e Pedagogiche

Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’

Villa Mirafiori

via Carlo Fea 2

00161 Rome, Italy

Fax: 0039.6.49917303


6.- Hume Studies in Britain (Past Conference)
Newman College, Cambridge

14-15 September, 2000

Organized in collaboration with The Mind Association

and The Foundation for Intellectual History

Conference organizer:
Dr. Peter Kail

St. Edmund’s College

Cambridge CB3 0BN


Other Conferences and Calls for Papers

When Words Go Wrong

1 December, 2000

University of Pittsburgh

Center for Philosophy of Science,

Judéités: Questions pour Jacques Derrida

3-5 December


Joseph Cohen,
Truth in Frege

8 December

Senate House, Malet Street, London

Philosophy and Madness

12 December

Staffordshire University

David Webb,

Joint Meeting of Midwest Seminar for the History of Early Modern Philosophy,

Centre d’Etudes Cartesiennes (Paris-Sorbonne),

and Centro Studi Cartesiani (Lecce)

12-13 December

Sorbonne, Paris

Daniel Garber,

Aquinas as Authority?

14-16 December

Thomas Instituut at Utrecht

Radical Evil’ and the Holocaust

26 December- 2 January

Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Bernard Klein, Philosophy, Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Blvd.,

Brooklyn, NY 11235

American Philosophical Association—Eastern Division (APA-E)

27-30 December

New York

Linda Smallbrook,
American Society for Philosophy, Counseling, & Psychotherapy (with APA-E)

Kenneth F. T. Cust,

Association for Symbolic Logic (with APA-E)

Association for Symbolic Logic,
Ayn Rand Society (with APA-E)

Allan Gotthelf,

North American Kant Society (with APA-E)

Nelson Potter,
Philosophy of Time Society (with APA-E)

William Lane Craig,

Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (with APA-E)

A. Preus,

Society for Philosophy & Public Affairs (with APA-E)

Carol Gould, 333 Central Park West, Apt. 16, New York, NY 10025 USA

Society for Philosophy & Technology (with APA-E)

Joseph C. Pitt,

Society for the Philosophic Study of the Contemporary Visual Arts (with APA-E)

Kevin L. Stoehr,

Society for the Philosophy of History (with APA-E)

Kevin Dodson,

Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love (with APA-E)

Carol Caraway,

Society for the Study of Women Philosophers (with APA)

Sara Ebenreck,

The Philosophy of Alvin Goldman

26-28 January, 2001

University of Arizona


13-14 February


Heather Jones,

Socrates, Plato, and the Presocratics

16-18 February

The University of Arizona, Tucson

Mark McPherran,

Platonic Provocations

24 February

Humanities Research Centre, UK.

+44 (024) 76523401

New England Colloquium in Early Modern Philosophy

10-11 March

Amherst College.

Lisa Shapiro,
American Philosophical Association-Pacific Division (APA-P)

28 March- 1 April

San Francisco

Anita Silvers, Philosophy, San Francisco State Univ., San Francisco, CA 94132
American Society for Philosophy, Counseling, & Psychotherapy (with APA-P)

Kenneth Cust,

Council of Philosophic Societies (with APA-P)

Helmut Wautishcer,

North American Kant Society (with APA-P)

Eric Watkens,

Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (with APA-P)

A. Preus,

American Philosophical Association-Central Division (APA-C)

3-5 May


Robin Smith,
American Society for Philosophy, Counseling, & Psycholtherapy (with APA-C)

Kenneth F. T. Cust,

Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (with APA-C)

A. Preus,

Society for Philosophy and Technology (with APA-C)

Paul Thompson,

Society for the Philosophic Study of the Contemporary Visual Arts (with APA-C)

Dan Flory,

Society for the Philosophy of Sex & Love (with APA-C)

Carol Caraway,

Ancient Philosophy Society

6-7 April

Villanova University

Peter A. Warneck,

Association of Genocide Scholars Meeting

10-12 June

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Dr. Frank Chalk,

The Enlightenment Society

3-7 June

La Jolla

Carolyn Ray,

Twentieth World Congress of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy

20-24 June


Congress Committee,

British Society for Ethical Theory

13-15 July

University of Glasgow

Angus McKay,;

Analytic Existentialism

15-16 August

Cape Town

David Benatar,

Greek Philosophy

17-25 August

Rhodes, Greece

K. Boudouris,

Peter Abelard

3-4 October, 2001

Universitè de Nantes

Confèrence Abelard,

Other News
1.- BSHP Chair
Dr. Sarah Hutton, BSHP Chair, can be contacted at the following address:
School of Humanities and Cultural Studies

Middlesex University

White Hart Lane

London N17 8HR


Tel.: +44 (0181) 8835862

Fax: +44 (0181) 4446144


2.- BSHP Treasurer and Membership Secretary
Dr. Nick Unwin (Bolton), BSHP Treasurer and Membership Secretary, can be contacted at the following address:
Dr. Nick Unwin

Faculty of Arts, Science and Education

Bolton Institute

Chadwick Street

Bolton BL2 1JW

Tel.: +44 (01204) 528851

Fax: +44 (01204) 399074


3.- BSHP Secretary
Dr. Maria Rosa Antognazza (King’s College, Aberdeen) is the BSHP Secretary. Maria Rosa is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Director of ‘The Reid Project’ ( Educated at the Catholic University of Milan, she has held research and visiting fellowships in Italy, Germany, Israel, Great Britain, and the USA. Her principal research interests lie in the history of philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She can be contacted at the following address:
Department of Philosophy

King’s College

Old Aberdeen AB24 3UB

Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel./Fax: +44 (01224) 272366


4.- BSHP Website
Further details and updates of BSHP matters are available on the BSHP website at:

Dr. Michael Beaney, the BSHP Website editor, can be contacted at:
Department of Philosophy

The Open University

Walton Hall

Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

Tel. +44 (01908) 657040

Fax: +44 (01908) 653750


5.- BSHP Conferences-Related Publications
Recent publications arising from BSHP conferences include:
C. Blackwell and S. Kusukawa (eds), Philosophy in the 16th and 17th Centuries:

Conversations with Aristotle (London: Ashgate, 1999); and
S. Brown (ed.), The Young Leibniz (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999).

6.- British Journal for the History of Philosophy
‘The British Journal for the History of Philosophy is a most welcome and worthwhile new addition to periodicals dealing with the field . . . . The Journal deserves the support of all serious scholars of the history of thought’.

Richard H. Popkin, Washington University
The BSHP Journal, the British Journal for the History of Philosophy (BJHP), publishes articles and reviews on the history of philosophy and related intellectual history from the ancient world to the early decades of the 20th Century. The Journal is designed to foster understanding of the history of philosophy through studying the texts of past philosophers in the context    intellectual, political and social    in which the text was created.

Although focusing on the recognized classics, a feature of the journal is to give attention to less major figures and to disciplines other than philosophy which impinge on the history of philosophy including political theory, religion and the natural sciences in so far as they illuminate the history of philosophy. Articles cover the history of European philosophy.

Publication Details
Professor John Rogers

Department of Philosophy

University of Keele

Keele, Staffs ST5 5BG

United Kingdom
Tel.: +44 (01782) 583304


Publisher: Taylor and Francis

ISSN: 0960-8788

3 issues per volume.
2000 Subscription Rates

Concessionary Rates:

BSHP Members may subscribe to the BJHP at a concessionary rate: £23.00 (with BSHP membership). Members outside Europe please add £6.00 for Airmail postage. (Please see the BSHP Application and Journal subscription form at the end of this Newsletter.)

Regular Rates:

Institution: £120.00

Individual: £35.00
USA/Canada institution: US$198.00

USA/Canada individual: US$52.00

Table of Contents of Volume 8 Number 3 Issue October 2000

‘The Development of Lockean Abstraction’

Jonathan Walmsley
‘Probability and Skepticism about Reason in Hume’s Treatise

Antonia Lolordo

‘Two Concepts of Language and Poetry: Edmund Burke and Moses Mendelssohn’

Tomá Hlobil

‘The Romantic Connection: Neurath, The Frankfurt School, and Heidegger’, Part Two

Andrew Bowie

‘Oxford Realism: Knowledge and Perception’, Part Two

Mathieu Marion

Adorno and Horkheimer’s Concept of “Enlightenment”’

Y. Sherratt

‘Adam Smith on the Emergence of Morals: A Reply to Eugene Heath’

James R. Otteson

Table of Contents of Volume 8 Number 2 Issue June 2000

‘Kant’s Answer to Hume:

How Kant Should Have Tried to Stand Hume’s Copy Thesis on its Head’

Steven M. Bayne
‘Kant, Truth and Human Nature’

Robert Hanna

‘Robert Leslie Ellis and John Stuart Mill on

the One and The Many of Frequentism’

Berna Kilinç
‘The Romantic Connection: Neurath, The Frankfurt School, and Heidegger’, Part One

Andrew Bowie

‘Oxford Realism: Knowledge and Perception’, Part One

Mathieu Marion

‘Hume Against Locke on The Causal Principle’

Edward J. Khamara

‘Garrett on the Theological Objection to Hume’s Compatibilism’

John Abbruzzese

Review Articles

‘Seventeenth-Century Philosophy’

Gordon Baker

Table of Contents of Volume 8 Number 1 Issue March 2000


‘Beyond Subjectivity: Spinoza’s Cognitivism of the Emotions’

Gideon Segal

‘Malebranche’s Doctrine of Freedom/Consent and the Incompleteness of God’s Volitions’

Andrew Pessin

‘Locke, Suspension of Desire, and the Remote Good’

Tito Magri

‘Cassirer, Schlick and “Structural” Realism’

Barry Gower

‘Structure And Genesis In Scientific Theory’

Christopher Norris

Review Articles

‘The Emotions in the Seventeenth Century’

Genevieve Lloyd

‘Ecrasez L’infame: Clever Clerics and The Politics of Knowledge?’

Justin Champion

‘Critical Editions’

D. D. Raphael

Visit the BJHP WWW pages at:

7.- BSHP 2001 AGM
The BSHP 2001 Annual General Meeting will take place during the ‘Scottish Enlightenment in its European Context’ conference, which will be held at the University of Glasgow, 3-6 April, 2001. Further details to follow on the BSHP website. ALL BSHP MEMBERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND THE AGM.

Book Reviews
Rethinking Identity and Metaphysics: On the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy

by Claire Ortiz Hill

New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997

xviii + 180pp. $27.00. ISBN 0-300-06837-9

In this book Claire Ortiz Hill sets out to chart the path that Frege and Russell took in attempting to develop a purely extensional logic, a path that she sees as culminating in Quine’s explicit attack on all forms of non-extensionality. The running theme is the way in which Frege and Russell systematically sought to erase the difference between equality and identity – ‘the difference between sharing any given property or properties and having all properties in common’ (p. 6).
The book is divided into two Parts. The first is entitled ‘The Twilight Zone’, and outlines the confusions that are often made in understanding identity statements – between sign and object, names and descriptions, concepts and objects, and equality and identity. The second is called ‘The Quest for a Clear Extensional Ontology’, and focuses on Russell’s Paradox and the problem of substitution in intensional contexts. The title of the first Part alludes to Frege’s remark in the Grundgesetze (II, §67) which forms the motto of Hill’s book: ‘Thus there arises a queer twilight; the equals sign is treated in a half-and-half way, as known and again as unknown. . . . This twilight is needed by many mathematicians for the performance of their logical conjuring tricks. The ends that are meant to be achieved in this way are unexceptionably attained through our transformation of an equality that holds generally into an equality between graphs [value-ranges], by Axiom V’. The reference here is to Frege’s transformation of ‘The concept F has the same value for each argument as the concept G’ into ‘The extension of F is identical with the extension of G’ (to instantiate Axiom V in the case of concepts). On Hill’s reading, and despite Frege’s own admonitions, what we have here is an equivalence (holding generally) being conjured into an identity, and her main thesis is that these kinds of move suppress intensionality. Two concept-words can have the same extension without having the same intension (‘creature with a heart’ and ‘creature with a kidney’ being a well-known example), yet, according to Frege, it is sameness of extension and not intension that provides the identity condition for concepts. Of course, such a view does seem counterintuitive, but it is not true that Frege has suppressed intensionality, since he allows – indeed, insists – that concept-words have Sinn as well as Bedeutung (‘creature with a heart’ and ‘creature with a kidney’ thus having different senses, despite standing for the same concept and having the same extension).
However, what I think is particularly misleading in Hill’s story is her continual refrain about confusion in Frege’s and Russell’s work. For example, after noting Frege’s extensional criterion for identity of concepts, she writes: ‘In granting this, Frege was conceding that what he deemed to be an irreversible relation, that of an object’s falling under a concept, could be equivalent to the reversible relation of identity, that the logical places for objects could be suitable for concepts’ (p. 40). But whilst Frege allowed that statements involving irreversible relations could be equivalent to statements involving identity relations (e.g. as reflected in Axiom V), he did not at all concede that the relations themselves were equivalent. And he was quite explicit about heeding the distinction between concept and object. On the central issue of equality versus identity, Hill writes: ‘In these examples Frege transforms statements about objects that are equal under a certain description into statements expressing complete identity. By erasing the difference between identity and equality he is in fact arguing that being the same in any one way is equivalent to being the same in all ways’ (p. 61). We might accept the first sentence here, but the second is highly misleading. To say that ‘The lines are equal in length’ is equivalent to ‘The length of the lines is the same’ (Frege, Grundlagen, §65; cf. Hill, p. 60) is not to force identity on the lines themselves, but merely to identify what it is that they have in common. Of course, there may be controversial ontological issues here, as Russell’s Paradox was to reveal, but these are not what Hill targets, even when she later discusses Axiom V in relation to Russell’s Paradox. The real problem with Axiom V, in the context in which Frege understood it, is not that it legitimizes a confusion between equality and identity, but that it treats the extension of a concept as on the same ontological level as the objects that fall under the concept. (The remarks by Hill quoted here are not isolated examples: similarly misleading remarks occur on pages 6, 30, 44, 46, 60, 68, 109-10, 138, 139 and 150-1.)
The other main case Hill discusses is Russell’s theory of descriptions. Names and definite descriptions might seem equivalent, but failure of substitutivity (in propositional attitude and modal contexts) shows that they cannot be treated as identical. Of course, Frege saw this as showing the need to distinguish between Sinn and Bedeutung, such that a name (e.g. ‘Scott’) and a definite description (e.g. ‘the author of Waverley’) may be identical in Bedeutung but differ in Sinn. Frege clearly recognized intensionality. Russell found a way of ‘analysing away’ definite descriptions, so that what might appear to be a simple identity statement is in fact a more complex statement. Again, it is misleading of Hill to suggest that Russell confused equality and identity. What Hill regards as a statement of ‘mere equality’ (such as ‘Scott is the author of Waverley’) turns out, on analysis, not to be an identity statement (though the identity sign does appear at some point in its analysed form); a fortiori, ‘mere equality’ is not transformed into identity.
I have serious reservations, then, about the running theme of the book. It is misleading to accuse Frege and Russell of trying to erase the difference between equality and identity, and the real issue is what account to accord intensionality in the wider philosophical picture. I agree with Hill that intensions are not to be suppressed, but when Hill concludes by stating that ‘Intensions are part of the ultimate furniture of the universe’ (p. 152), I feel that it is just this that needs to be shown. Isn’t the message of the Frege-Russell-Quine path in philosophy precisely that intensions cannot be assumed to occupy the same ontological level as other things?
Loose formulations aside, however, Hill knows how to tell a good story: the narrative is smooth, and some of the examples and turns of phrase she uses are helpful and apt. Hill’s claim, for example, that Russell wanted to have his classes and delete them too is delightfully concise; and if it is possible to prescind from the reservations about the running theme, then the book may be recommended to anyone who wants a guide to the ‘flight from intension’ that does constitute one central thread in twentieth century philosophy.
The back cover of the book tells us that Hill ‘has been a religious hermit with the Diocese of Paris for sixteen years’, and although it only surfaces occasionally, one couldn’t help being struck by what seemed to be the underlying religious motif of the book. Hill clearly feels that the analytic philosopher’s original sin was leaving the Garden of Intensionality for the Quinean Desert of Extensionality, seduced by the Russellian serpent and wearing only Frege-leaves. She suggests in her Preface that the book is really about Husserl, who is presumably seen as leading us back into the Garden of Intensionality. Talking about Frege and Russell is an original way to talk about Husserl, whose work is not discussed at all, but recognizing the illustration here of a relation that falls short of identity does help clarify the intensional context of Hill’s own work.

Dr. Michael Beaney

Open University


African-American Philosophers, 17 Conversations.

Ed. by George Yancy

London and New York: Routledge, 1998

288pp. $22.99 ISBN 0415921007

Winner of the Choice 1999 Outstanding Academic Book Award
The seventeen interviews which make up this book were conducted by George Yancy ‘between early 1996 and the middle of 1997’. Seven of the philosophers interviewed are women (Joyce Mitchell Cook, Angela Y. Davis, Naomi Zack, Joy James, Adrian M. S. Piper, Anita L. Allen, Michele M. Moody-Adams), ten are men (Bernard R. Boxill, Albert Mosley, Lucius T. Outlaw, Jr., Tommy L. Lott, Howard McGary Jr., Leonard Harris, Laurence Thomas, Robert E. Birt, Cornel West, Lewis R. Gordon). All but one received PhD’s in philosophy from graduate programs in the U.S.; all hold teaching positions in colleges and universities here. They have published, to date, more than forty books and hundreds of journal articles combined. Yancy structures the interviews around a uniform ‘set of questions relating to early biography’ and ‘formative influences’ as well as philosophical issues taken up by the interviewees in their work. He also includes ‘similar thematic questions’ concerning ‘the nature of race construction, the importance of the concept of race, what it means to be an African-American philosopher,’ and ‘whether there is something straightforwardly termed “African-American philosophy”’. The intent is ‘to create… an intertextual dialectic between the interviewees’ to reveal how the life of the mind feels inside a black skin.
In the introduction Yancy describes the circumstances which led him to conceive and produce the book. It is the child of Yancy’s incongruous seduction, as a self-aware black kid growing up in the projects of North Philadelphia, by philosophy, a field that consistently presented itself, and still does, as an abstract conversation between white men. The incongruity is brought front-and-center into the conversations in this book: as much space is devoted to reflection on these thinkers’ life-experiences—including grad school careers and interactions with colleagues—as to discussion of their academic publications and ‘properly’ philosophical views. Yancy cites Alain Locke’s dictum that ‘all philosophies… are in ultimate derivation philosophies of life and not of abstract, disembodied ‘objective’ reality’ in support of his move to ‘go existential’ with his interlocutors. Much of the questioning is aimed at finding how each negotiates the divergent pressures and expectations impinging on anyone trying to live out the characterization ‘African-American philosopher,’ especially in the American academy.
The career trajectories and associated balancing acts are recounted in more or less detailed, more or less insightful fashion. For some of these philosophers, brought up in the black church traditions, early exposure to writers like Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich was crucial in turning them toward philosophy. For others, undergraduate encounters with traditional canonical writers--Plato, Russell, and Reichenbach—made the difference.

Many contributors mention French literature and particularly the existentialist novelists Sartre and Camus as stimulating their interest in philosophy. Some mention early reading of Frederick Douglass. Or Fyodor Dostoevsky. While some identify philosophy proper as an early and abiding passion, others underline pragmatic considerations—not having to take statistics, being able to think about mathematics and music—to account for their choice of vocation. Three took PhD’s from Harvard, two from Yale, two from UCLA, one each from Boston College, Columbia, Cornell, Fordham, Michigan, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, and Vanderbilt. Most were trained in analytic departments, but existentialism, critical theory, Marxism, and pragmatism are represented here as well. In short, the individual stories don’t easily add up to any general picture of the African-American philosopher. That should be neither a surprise nor a disappointment.

What thematic center there is for this volume comes from several interrelated questions Yancy explores with each of the interviewees. Two vexed issues receiving the most attention are the concept of race and the identity of African-American philosophy. It appears there is widespread, though not universal, consensus here that race is ‘a social construct’—that the common notion that the social significance of conventional racial classifications has a biological basis has no scientific validity (Joyce Mitchell Cook (who does work on value theory) and Albert Mosley (logic, philosophy of science, African philosophy), the first and third oldest of the interviewees, dissent). Beyond that considerable differences exist. Tommy Lott (who has written on Hobbes, Berkeley, and DuBois) and Lucius Outlaw (Africana philosophy, continental philosophy) affirm a further, positive cultural identity as a part of the significance of race. Others, such as Anita Allen (legal philosophy, the right to privacy) and Laurence Thomas (moral psy-chology, ethical theory) emphasize the struggle to overcome racist mistreatment and for the egalitarian recognition of blacks in American social life, seeing little if any positive value to racial identification. But race matters to all those interviewed here, and to their philosophical labors as well. Most would agree with Howard McGary (African-American philosophy and social and political philosophy) when he says that ‘the intuitions that I have… drawn upon in my philosophic work… have been shaped by my racial identity.’
The question of African-American philosophy as a distinctive professional enterprise elicits diverse responses; here too there is no unanimity. But most of those interviewed take issue with the profession’s self-image. The mainstream’s disciplinary mythology of origins invokes the name of Pythagoras, alleged to have coined the term ‘philosopher.’ It was only later that ‘philosophy’ made its appearance, naming an institution Pythagoras would not have recognized. This priority of the thinker has been overturned: ‘the philosopher’ is now an academic—held hostage to a canon, a tradition, a profession. And so, many influential thinkers go unmentioned in this same mythology—they were neither white men nor philosophers in the profession’s academic image. ‘The writings of thinkers who were engaged in very concrete struggle in their communities tend to be overlooked as philosophical or theoretical’ (Joy James, who writes on critical race theory and feminism). Given this, the question of African-American philosophy demands a questioning of the social and historical conditions of philosophy as an academic profession in the United States.
Those conditions have changed by some small degrees in this last quarter century. There are now perhaps a hundred African-Americans employed as philosophers in the U.S. academy—out of some ten thousand—and ‘Africana philosophy’ (used ‘to refer collectively to the philosophizing of African and African-descended people’--Outlaw) is identified by the American Philosophical Association as one of the discipline’s ‘special fields.’ But only eleven of the seventeen philosophers interviewed currently hold positions in academic philosophy programs. As these numbers suggest, the incongruity persists, helped along by backwater theorizing and official foot-dragging.
But deeper sources of incongruity turn up as well. While some sentiment is expressed here for the view that philosophy is ‘the arena of idealism,’ involving a ‘preoccupation with truth, beauty, and goodness’(Adrian Piper, a Kant scholar and ethicist), most of these thinkers feel compelled to address social issues first and foremost. Anita Allen describes being ‘fascinated’ in graduate school with David Wiggins’ work on identity, but notes that ‘as a Black person it felt odd to sit around asking questions like, “How do you know when two nonexistent objects are the same?”’ And others in this collection—Howard McGary and Bernard Boxill (African-American philosophy, political philosophy), to name two—fled a strong interest in mathematical and formal reason to focus on social concerns in their philosophizing. Few here are as classical and ‘black-identified’ in their work as Cornel West (pragmatism, African-American and American philosophy, philosophy of religion), engaged, as he puts it, in ‘wrestling with the problem of evil in modernity, especially as it relates to people of African descent in particular.’ But most would identify with Michele Moody-Adams’(moral philosophy, social and political philosophy) claim that, when writing a particular piece of philosophy, ‘I may never mention race but I know that deep down what is egging me on intellectually is a set of problems that come out of my experience’ as the experience of an African-American. That is because ‘anyone who has black ancestry in this country has a constant awareness of race on different levels. You can’t turn it off,’ even if ‘the volume varies depending on the situation’ (Naomi Zack, who writes on early modern European philosophy and race theory).
Some of the philosophers interviewed here, along with others not included in this volume, are consciously engaged in ‘creating a tradition of African-American philosophy…. as represented in the writings of Martin Delany, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Alexander Crummell, W.E.B. DuBois and others’ (Boxill). This project of ‘creating’ ‘a genre within American philosophy’ (Leonard Harris, who writes on American philosophy, Alain Locke, and explanation) has only just begun; in ‘two or three generations… we may not have to ask did Frederick Douglass read Hegel as a way to study Douglass’ (Lott). For now, at least, other frequently invoked names—Hobbes, Kant, Sartre, Rawls—still provide a point of departure. But ‘there is no social construction without a reality that helps pick it out’ (Harris), and race remains a reality—a fact of life—for African-Americans today. And so, for many in this volume, the incongruity itself fuels their will to understanding: if you live the socratic imperative, ‘applying the tools of philosophy’ to race, ‘you get clarity on the subject that you can’t get if you’re just living it’ (Zack).
Professor John P. Pittman

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The City University of New York


Books Received
Archer, Margaret S., Culture and Agency (rev. ed., Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics (Ware: Wordsworth, 1996).

Arrington, Robert L., and Glock, Hans Johan (eds.), Wittgenstein and Quine (London: Routledge, 1996).

Bacon, Essays (Ware: Wordsworth, 1997).

Baker, Gordon, and Morris, Katherine J., Descartes’ Dualism (London: Routledge, 1996).

Balkin, J. M., Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

Barnes, Jonathan, The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).*

Bosetti, Giancarlo, The Lessons of this Century: Karl Popper Interviewed (London: Routledge, 1995).*

Chávez-Arvizo, Enrique (ed.), Descartes: Key Philosophical Writings (Ware: Wordsworth,1997).

Chazan, P., The Moral Self (London: Routledge, 1998).

Confucius, The Analects (Ware: Wordsworth, 1996).

Corvi, Roberta, An Introduction to the Thought of Karl Popper (London: Routledge, 1996).*

Cottingham, John (ed.), Philosophy and the Good Life: Reason and the Passions in Greek, Cartesian, and Psychoanalytic Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).

Cottingham, John (ed.), Western Philosophy: An Anthology (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996).

Dooley, Dolores, Equality in Community: Sexual Equality in the Writings of William Thompson and Anna Doyle Wheeler (Cork: Cork University Press, 1996).

Duran, Jane, Philosophies of Science/Feminist Theories (Westview Press, 1998).

Garret, Brian, Personal Identity and Self-Consciousness (London: Routledge, 1998).

Gaukroger, Stephen (ed.), The Soft Underbelly of Reason: The Passions in the Seventeenth Century (London: Routledge, 1997).

Giles, James, No Self to be Found: The Search for Personal Identity (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1997).

Hacker, P. M. S, Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).

Hoffman, Joshua, and Rosenkratntz, Gary S., Substance: Its Nature and Existence (London: Routledge, 1996).

Jenkins, Keith, On ‘What is History?’: From Carr and Elton to Rorty and White (London: Routledge, 1995).

Lemon, M. C., The Discipline of History and the History of Thought (London: Routledge, 1995).

Locke, John, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Ware: Wordsworth, 1998)

Logan, Beryl (ed.), Immanuel Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics: In Focus (London: Routledge, 1996).

Malory, Le Morte Darthur (Ware: Wordsworth, 1996).

May, Reinhard, Heidegger’s Hidden Sources: East Asian Influences on His Work (London: Routledge, 1996).

McGuinness, B. (ed.), Wittgenstein and His Time (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 1998).

Mill, On Liberty & The Subjection of Women (Ware: Wordsworth, 1996).

Misak, C. J., Verificationism: Its History and Prospects (London: Routledge, 1995).

Mooney, Edward, Selves in Discord and Resolve: Kierkegaard’s Mora Religious Psychology from ‘Either/Or’ to ‘Sickness unto Death (London: Routledge, 1995).

Mounce, H.O, The Two Pragmatisms: From Peirce to Rorty (London: Routledge, 1997).

Munslow, Alun, Deconstructing History (London: Routledge, 1997).

Murr, Sylvia (ed.), Gassendi et L’Europe (Paris: J. Vrin, 1997).

Ortiz Hill, Clare, Rethinking Identity and Metaphysics: On the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).*

Paine, Rights of Man (Ware: Wordsworth, 1996).

Plato, The Republic (Ware: Wordsworth, 1997).

Popper, Karl R., The World of Parmenides: Essays on the Presocratic Enlightenment (London: Routledge, 1998).

Richardson, W. Mark, and Wildman, Wesley, J. (eds.), Religion and Science: History, Method, Dialogue (London: Routledge, 1996).

Robinson, Guy, Philosophy and Mystification (London: Routledge, 1998).

Rogers, Kelly (ed.), Self-Interest: An Anthology of Philosophical Perspectives (London: Routledge, 1997).

Rose, Gillian, Mourning Becomes the Law (Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Rousseau, Confessions (Ware: Wordsworth, 1996).

Scarre, Goffrey, Utilitarianism (London: Routledge, 1996).

Schrift, Alan D., Nietzsche’s French Legacy: A Genealogy of Poststructuralism (London: Routledge, 1995).

Sepper, Dennis L., Descartes’s Imagination: Proportion, Images, and the Activity of Thinking (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).*

Sharples, R. W., Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics: An Introduction to Hellenistic Philosophy (London: Routledge, 1996).

Shearmur, Jeremy, The Political Thought of Karl Popper (London: Routledge, 1996).

Southgate, Beverley, History: What and Why? (London: Routledge, 1996).

Verene, Donal Phillip, Philosophy and the Return to Self Knowledge (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).

Wardy, Robert, The Birth of Rhetoric: Gorgias, Plato and Their Successors (London: Routledge, 1996).

Weintraub, Ruth, The Sceptical Challenge (London: Routledge, 1996).

Werlen, Benno, Society, Action and Space (London: Routledge, 1993).

Wright, M. R., Cosmology in Antiquity (London: Routledge, 1995).

Yancy, George (Ed.), African-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations (London: Routledge, 1998).*
NB: Items marked with an asterisk have been reviewed in this issue or previous issues of the Newsletter.

E-mail Addresses for BSHP Members

Below is a list of e-mail Addresses of BSHP members intended to facilitate communication by electronic means among our members. If you would like your e-mail address added to the list    see instructions at the end of this list    or have an e-mail address change/correction, please contact the Editor, via e mail at . E-mail addresses for BSHP Committee members appear in bold font type.

Antognazza, Maria Rosa,

Arima, Tadahiro,

Armour, Leslie,

Attfield, Robin,

Beaney, Michael,

Beeley, Philip,

Belfrage, Bertil,

Belsey, Andrew,

Bjarup, Jes,

Blum, Paul-Richard,

Bolton, Martha Brandt,

Bozovic, Miran,

Bracken, Harry M.,

Brooke, J.H.,

Brown, Stuart,

Brown, Vivienne,

Buckle, Stephen,

Candlish, Brian Malcolm,

Catton, Philip,

Chamberlain, Jane,

Chappell, Vere,

Chavez-Arvizo, Enrique,

Clark, S.R.L.,

Clarke, D.M.,

Costa, Prof. Margarita,

Cottingham, John G.,

Dawson, Graham,

Denker, Alfred,

Doney, W.F.,

Fattori, Marta,

Force, James E.,

Francks, Richard,

Frasca-Spada, Marina,

Gabbey, Alan,

Gallie, Roger,

Garber, Prof. Daniel,

Gatti, Hilary,

Giles, James,

Haakonssen, Knud,

Haldane, John J.,

Hedley, Douglas,

Hotson, Howard,

Huby, Pamela M.,

Hutton, Sarah,

Kail, Peter,

Knight, David,

Kusukawa, Sachiko,

Lapointe, Sandra,

Larvor, Brendan,

Lloyd, Sarah,

MacDonald Ross, George,

Martin, R.N.D.,

Mason, Richard V.,

Mautner, Thomas,

McNaughton, David,

Methuen, Charlotte,

Micheli, Giuseppe,

Murr, Sylvia,

Norton, David Fate, (faulty)

Nuovo, Victor L.,

Owen, David,

Panizza, Letizia,

Pearce, Spencer,

Perkins, Mary Anne,

Phemister, Pauline J.,

Pincham, Don,

Pyle, Andrew J.,

Ranea, Alberto G.,

Raynor, David,

Rée, Jonathan,

Rogers, G.A.J.,

Salman, Phillips,

Schouls, Peter A.,

Schuurman, Paul,

Scott, David J.,

Serjeantson, Richard,

Shimokawa, Kiyoshi,

Simonutti, Luisa,

Sorell, Tom,

Sprigge, T.L.S.,

Stalley, Richard,

Steenbakkers, Piet,

Stern, Robert,

Stewart, Ian G.,

Stewart, M.A.,

Stocker, Barry,

Stone, Martin,

Sweet, William, wsweet@juliet.stfx.can

Tadahiro, Arima,

Tarantino, E.,

Taylor, C.C.W.,

Thiel, Udo,

Thoemmes, Rudi,

Thomas, Geoffrey,

Thomson, Ann,

Tipton, I.C.,

Tomida, Yasuhiko,

Trigg, Alison,

Uebel, Thomas E.,

Unwin, Nick,

Vogel, Klaus A.,

Watson, Richard A.,

Wickes, H.J.,

Wright, John P.,

Zarka, Yves-Charles,

[End of List]

Copyright 2000 by The British Society for the History of Philosophy
If you would like your e-mail address added to the list please send as soon as possible and no later than 1st. March, 2001 an e mail to the Editor (e-mail address: ) containing exclusively the following information in one of the following formats:
last namefirst namee mail address
last namefirst namesecond initial

e mail address

For example:
(A name with no second initial)
Chávez-Arvizo, Enrique,
(A name with second initial)
Cottingham, John G.,

N.B. The list will be compiled and sorted electronically. To guarantee the inclusion of your address in the list, please follow carefully the format above and avoid including any other information in your e-mail, such as salutation, signature, etc. I appreciate your co-operation. The program can only accept ONE e-mail address per member.

The Editor.



Readers of the Newsletter will have been very saddened to hear of the untimely death of Margaret Wilson in 1998. Her contribution to the history of philosophy was quite outstanding, and it is no exaggeration to say that she left a lasting impact on the philosophical study of early modern thought. Though she contributed to many areas (her numerous papers include groundbreaking work on Leibniz and Berkeley), it is for her writings on Descartes that she will probably be best remembered. She was, undisputedly, America’s premier Cartesian scholar, and her book Descartes for the ‘Arguments of the Philosophers’ series is widely, and rightly, regarded as a model of excellence. The history of philosophy is a subject which has sometimes been worried about its status, and about its relationship to ‘cutting edge’ analytic philosophy, but there could be no more powerful antidote to such worries than the work of Margaret Wilson. She managed to convey the sheer excitement that can be generated when meticulous attention to a historical text is combined with rigorous critical analysis of the structure of the arguments. Descartes fascinated her not just because she was an admirer of the way he wrote (she was totally at home in the Latin and French materials, and had a rare sense of discernment in uncovering the nuances of the original languages), but also because she had a genuine sense of the enduring philosophical importance of the issues involved. As she put it, with typical directness, in the introduction to her book, ‘The spare yet relaxed Latin of the Meditations presents us with a tightly-constructed problematic that has proved pervasive, durable, and very hard to shake or completely dissolve, however much we may try.’ Many members of the BSHP will recall Margaret Wilson’s presence as one of the guests of honour at the Society’s Conference on Descartes, held at the University of Reading in September 1991, to mark the 350th anniversary of the publication of the Meditations. Margaret’s palpable enthusiasm for the subject, her delight at the comradeship of the academic community, and above all, her straightforward and self-effacing manner, free from all pretension or conceit, were transparent to all who met her. She will be greatly missed.
John Cottingham
British Society for the History of Philosophy


Members may also subscribe to the British Journal for the History of Philosophy for 2000 at a concessionary rate.
Title and Name: ________________________________________________



e-mail: ________________________________________________

Membership dues 2000 as follows:

___Full member (without Journal) £ 7.50

___Retired/student member (without Journal) £ 5.00

___Membership with Journal £23.00

___Journal Airmail postage outside Europe £ 6.00

___Conversion fee (foreign currency checks) £ 7.00


Total £
Dues should be paid by cheque for pounds sterling made payable to ‘British Society for the History of Philosophy’. (NB: Cheques for amounts in foreign currency are subject to conversion fees). Alternatively, members who wish to pay by standing order mandate through a British Bank may do so by enclosing the appropriate standing order form. (This form may be requested at the address below.)

Members who take the Journal and wish to pay by credit card (Visa/Mastercard/Access/American Express -- delete as appropriate) may do so by entering the following details:

Card Number: __________________________________________

Expiry date: __________________________________________

Signature: __________________________________________

Please send completed form and payment of dues to:

Dr. Nick Unwin, BSHP Treasurer and Membership Secretary

Faculty of Arts, Science and Education, Bolton Institute

Chadwick Street, Bolton BL2 1JW, England

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page