Practicing Public Philosophy

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“Practicing Public Scholarship.” Public Philosophy Journal 1, no. 1 (2018). https://doi.org/10.25335/m5/ppj.1.1-1.

Situating the Public Philosophy Journal at the intersection of philosophy and questions of public concern, this essay articulates how the journal hopes to practice public scholarship through a formative review process designed to create communities capable of enriching public life.

This is the inaugural essay in the inaugural issue of the Public Philosophy Journal. 

Pragmatism and the Cultivation of Digital Democracies

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“Pragmatism and the Cultivation of Digital Democracies.” In Richard J. Bernstein and the Expansion of American Philosophy: Thinking the Plural, edited by Marcia Morgan and Megan Craig, 37–59. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2016.

As technology enables us to communicate with one another in unpredictable ways that allow for an unprecedented public exchange of diverse ideas, cultivating the philosophical habits of an engaged fallibilistic pluralism gains in urgency. Read More

The Liberal Arts Endeavor: The Arts of Liberty in a Time of Uncertainty

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“The Liberal Arts Endeavor: The Arts of Liberty in a Time of Uncertainty.” Journal of General Education, 65, 2 (2017), v-vi.

Even if, as Hannah Arendt suggests, “we are always educating for a world that is or is becoming out of joint,” 1 our commitment to general education as “a distinctive cornerstone of the arts of liberty” gains urgency in times of uncertainty.

Although we often think of liberty as a basic right bestowed upon us, it is more fundamentally an activity rooted in the human ability to begin anew. As an activity, liberty can be practiced well or poorly. Practiced well, the arts of liberty enrich our communities, enliven our connection with the natural world, and advance the cause of social justice. Practiced poorly, the arts of liberty diminish us, impoverish our relationships, and destroy the environment on which life depends. Read More

Reiner Schürmann: Care of Death

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“Care of Death: On the Teaching of Reiner Schürmann.” Philosophy Today, January 31, 2017. doi:10.5840/philtoday201713141.

A homage in the guise of an essay, this is the story of the last course Reiner Schürmann taught. As a text, it attempts to describe, situate, and come to terms with the power of Schürmann’s teaching in the context of his last lectures on Heidegger’s Being and Time. But if it is to be true to the deepest lessons of Schürmann’s thinking, it will also need to be heard as an invitation to interpret together the significance of his reading so that it may be permitted to shape the course of the lives of those who encounter it. Read More

The Liberal Arts Endeavor: On Editing the Journal of General Education

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“The Liberal Arts Endeavor: On Editing the Journal of General Education.” Journal of General Education, 65, 1 (2016), v-vii.

In accepting the editorship of the Journal of General Education: A Curricular Commons of the Humanities and Sciences, I am pleased to recognize the thoughtful and creative work of Jeremy Cohen and Patty Wharton-Michael, who have served as editors for the past four years, and of Catherine Jordan, who served as the editorial manager. They cultivated and nurtured a journal committed, as they so eloquently articulated, to general education “as a distinctive cornerstone of the arts of liberty.” Drawing on this enduring mission, the journal will be committed to furthering the arts of liberty as integral to our attempts to “prepare citizens to live engaged, responsible, and meaningful lives.” Read More

Public Philosophy and Philosophical Publics

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de Avlillez, André Rosenbaum, Mark Fisher, Kris Klotz, and Christopher P. Long. “Public Philosophy and Philosophical Publics: Performative Publishing and the Cultivation of Community.” The Good Society 24, no. 2 (2015): 118–45.

The emergence of new platforms for public communication, public deliberation, and public action presents new possibilities for forming, organizing, and mobilizing public bodies, which invite philosophical reflection concerning the standards we currently look to for coordinating public movements and for evaluating their effects. Developing a broad understanding of public philosophy, this article begins with the view of philosophy and intellectual freedom articulated in Kant’s publicly oriented writings. We then focus on the power of philosophical discourse to form and further articulate public bodies. Drawing on Dewey’s work, we discuss the role of philosophical discourse in the articulation of publics into self-regulated, sovereign entities. We conclude with an account of how publishing itself might come to play an important role in the practice of public philosophy in a digital age. Read More

On Touch and Life in the De Anima

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“On Touch and Life in the De Anima.” In Phenomenology and the Metaphysics of Sight, edited by Antonio Cimino and Pavlos Kontos, (Leiden: Brill Academic Publisher, 2015, 69-94).

Although Aristotle is often thought to give canonical voice to the priority of vision as the most noble of the human powers of perceiving, this article demonstrates that in Aristotle, touch has a priority vision lacks.

By tracing the things Aristotle says about touch in the De Anima and specifically the manner in which he identifies touch as a kind of mean condition, this essay argues that a deeper understanding of the nature of touch connects us humans more deeply to animal life and the natural world we inhabit. Read More

Tracking Plato’s Dogs

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“Who Let the Dogs Out? Tracking the Philosophical Life Among the Wolves and Dogs of Plato’s Republic.” In Plato’s Animals: Gadflies, Snakes, Stingrays, Swans, and Other Philosophical Beasts, edited by Jeremy Bell and Michael Naas, (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2015). Available in Open Access Format: http://hdl.handle.net/2022/19576

Identifying a sustainable model for open access publishing in the humanities is a challenge that calls for creative experimental solutions. The model that sustains the growth of open access scholarship in the sciences is rooted in federal funding mechanisms that are unavailable at the same scale for the humanities. This situation requires innovative collaboration between humanities scholars and publishers to develop sustainable ways to provide open access to humanities scholarship at scale.

I am happy to report here on one such collaborative experiment in open access publishing in the humanities. Read More

The Peripatetic Method: Walking with Woodbridge, Thinking with Aristotle

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“The Peripatetic Method: Walking with Woodbridge, Thinking with Aristotle.” In The Bloomsbury Companion to Aristotle, edited by Claudia Baracchi, (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014).

Published in The Bloomsbury Companion to Aristotle (Bloomsbury Companions), this essay, entitled “The Peripatetic Method: Walking with Woodbridge, Thinking with Aristotle,” attempts to articulate the manner in which Aristotle’s thinking unfolds.

You can read the The Peripatetic Method on the Bloomsbury site, where they have made it openly accessible.

Drawing on the poetry of Wallace Stevens and the remarkable series of lectures Frederick J. E. Woodbridge gave at Union College in 1930 entitled, simply, “The Philosophy of Aristotle,” but published under the title Aristotle’s Vision of Nature, this paper identifies the path of Aristotle’s thinking, its method, as a “peripatetic legomenology.” It is a legomenology because it attends carefully to the manner in which things are said (ta legomena), and peripatetic because it follows the things said as a way into the nature of things. Read More

Socrates: Platonic Political Ideal

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Christopher P. Long, “Socrates: Platonic Political Ideal,” Ideas y Valores, 61, 149: 2012.

This essay articulates the differences and suggests the similarities between the practices of Socratic political speaking and those of Platonic political writing.

The essay delineates Socratic speaking and Platonic writing as both erotically oriented toward ideals capable of transforming the lives of individuals and their relation- ships with one another. Besides it shows that in the Protagoras the practices of Socratic political speaking are concerned less with Protagoras than with the individual young man, Hippocrates. In the Phaedo, this ideal of a Socrates is amplified in such a way that Platonic writing itself emerges as capable of doing with readers what Socratic speaking did with those he encountered. Socrates is the Platonic political ideal. Read More

Attempting the Political Art

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Christopher P. Long, “Attempting the Political Art,” Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, 27 (2012): 153-74.

The main thesis of this essay is that the practice of Socratic political speaking and the practice of Platonic political writing are intimately interconnected but distinct.

The essay focuses on the famous passage from the Gorgias in which Socrates claims to be one of the few Athenians who attempt the political art truly and goes on to articulate the nature of his political practice as a way of speaking toward the best (521d6-e2). Read More

Crisis of Community

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Long, Christopher P. “Crisis of Community: The Topology of Socratic Politics in the Protagoras,” Epoché: a Journal for the History of Philosophy, 15, 2 (2011): 361-377.

In Plato’s Protagoras Alcibiades plays the role of Hermes, the ‘ambassador god’, who helps lead Socrates’ conversation with Protagoras through a crisis of dialogue that threatens to destroy the community of education established by the dialogue itself.

By tracing the moments when Alcibiades intervenes in the conversation, we are led to an understanding of Socratic politics as always concerned with the course of the life of an individual and the proper time in which it might be turned toward the question of justice and the good.

The full text of the article, Crisis of Community: The Topology of Socratic Politics in the Protagoras is available for download from my Humanities Commons page.

To hear an audio recording of a version of this paper with a response from Anne-Marie Bowery and questions from the audience at the 2010 Ancient Philosophy Society, listen above.

Teaching Philosophy: Cultivating Communities of Learning with Digital Media

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Digital media technology, when deployed in ways that cultivate shared learning communities in which students and teachers are empowered to participate as partners in conjoint educational practices, can transform the way we teach and learn philosophy. This essay offers a model for how to put blogging and podcasting in the service of a cooperative approach to education that empowers students to take ownership of their education and enables teachers to cultivate in themselves and their students the excellences of dialogue. The essay is organized around a compelling story of how the students in an Ancient Greek Philosophy course responded to an anonymous, belligerent commenter on the blog from outside of the class. The incident brings the pedagogy of cooperative education into sharp relief.

I am also embedding here a video the students in the class made with me after the course was over. In the video, we speak only words we wrote on the blog in order to capture something of the spirit of the conversation we had over the course of the semester.

 

The full text of Cultivating Communities of Learning through Digital Media is available for download on from the Humanities Commons.

The Voice of Singularity

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The Voice of Singularity traces what Reiner Schürmann calls the “double comprehension of being” in Kant in which the sense of being as pure givenness is said to be recognized but denied by Kant as his thinking undertakes its Copernican turn. By attending to the voice of singularity as it expresses itself in Kant’s texts, this essay seeks to open the possibility of a “philosophy to come” that remains attuned to the dynamic between natality and mortality that is always at play in articulation.

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The Duplicity of Beginning

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This essay is an immanent critique of the story Reiner Schürmann tells concerning the origins of metaphysics as an epoch of hegemonic principles. In both Heidegger on Being and Acting and Broken Hegemonies, Schürmann identifies Aristotle as the father of a metaphysics that understands being in terms of human fabrication. The Duplicity of Beginning attempts to problematize this reading by suggesting that it too is a fabrication that succumbs to Schürmann’s own critique of hegemonic metaphysics. This opens the possibility of reading the poetics of Aristotle’s thinking as bound to the “ravaged site” between natality and mortality.

“The Duplicity of Beginning: Schürmann, Aristotle and the Origins of Metaphysics.” The Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, 29, 2 (2008).

The Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal has generously allowed me to make the full text of this article available in .pdf format: Click this link to download the full text of the article.

Plato's Method in Madness

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Long, Christopher P. “Is there Method in this Madness? Context, Play and Laughter in Plato’s Symposium and Republic.” In Philosophy in Dialogue: Plato’s Many Devices, edited by Gary Alan Scott. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2007.

For modern philosophy, method is designed to set forth objective rules of procedure so as to establish philosophy as a rigorous science. For Plato, however, method cannot be divorced from the contingent contexts in which philosophy is always practiced. While modern method permits no madness, there is madness in Plato’s method.

This article traces three strategies that constitute the method of madness that operates in the Symposium and Republic. The first is a distancing strategy in which Plato systematically distances himself from the content of the ideas expressed in the dialogues in order to provoke the sort of critical self-reflection required for philosophy. The second is a grounding strategy whereby Plato embeds philosophical debate in determinate social and political contexts so as to anchor philosophy in the concrete world of human community. The third is a demonstrative strategy in which Plato models philosophy as an activity intent on weaving a vision of the good, the beautiful and the just into the contingent world of human politics. Together these three strategies function methodologically to show the powerful conception of philosophy embodied in the dialogues.

To read a review of the book Philosophy in Dialogue: Plato’s Many Devices, see the Bryn Mawr Classical Review account written by Rebecca Benson Cain.

The Daughters of Metis

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“The Daughters of Metis: Patriarchal Dominion and the Politics of the Between.” The Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, 28, 2 (2007).

By attending closely to three ancient stories concerned with the origin and effect of patriarchal dominion, this essay seeks at once to discern the tragic dialectic according to which patriarchal authority operates and to open new possibilities for politics beyond the logic of domination and force. The stories of Zeus’s consumption of Métis in the Theogony, of Agamemnon’s sacrifice of Iphigeneia in the Agamemnon and of Athena’s attempt to establish a just human community in the Eumenides articulate something of the logic of force that underlies and undermines patriarchal dominion at its very origins.

These stories also, however, suggest another possibility for politics insofar as they give voice to the transformative political intelligence known to the Greeks as metis. This habit of thinking is dynamic and open in such a way that it can actualize what Hannah Arendt has designated as genuine political power: the ability to bring words and deeds together to cultivate relations and create new realities. The power of metis, it is suggested, is a habit of thinking capable of weaving difference into community with an eye toward justice.

This essay turns to these ancient stories in order to draw out the possibilities metis holds for a new politics in the face of the chronic, pathological failures of the logic of force that has historically animated patriarchal politics.

The Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal has generously allowed me to make the full text of this article available in .pdf format:

Nous and Logos in Aristotle

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Nous and Logos in Aristotle.” Freiburger Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie 54, 3 (2007): 348-367; co-authored with Richard A. Lee, Jr.

This essay challenges the received orthodoxy that in Aristotle, nous, the capacity for intuitive insight and logos, the capacity of combination that belongs to human discursive thinking, are mutually exclusive, independently operating capacities of the human mind. It argues rather that Aristotle articulates an understanding of nous that is able to be logical and of logos that is able to be noetic.

The essay traces the complex relationship between nous and logos that runs through the various paths of Aristotle’s thinking from the Posterior Analytics to the Nichomachean Ethics and into the De Anima and the Metaphysics, in order to discern the extent to which nous and logos in Aristotle belong together. The relation between nous and logos is shown to be determined by concrete logo-noetic encounters with individuals that at once give rise to the universals of theoretical contemplation and allow humans to effectively respond to the world of practical affairs. The result is an integrated understanding of nous in its relation to logos that enjoins a heightened sensitivity to and responsibility toward the concrete individuals encountered in everyday experience.

Open access to this article can be found on my Humanities Commons profile:

Nous and Logos in Aristotle

Aristotle’s Phenomenology of Form

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Long, Christopher P. “Aristotle’s Phenomenology of Form: The Shape of Beings that Become,” Epoché 11, no. 2 (2007), 435-448.

Scholars often assume that Aristotle uses the terms morphē and eidos interchangeably. Translators of Aristotle’s works rarely feel the need to carry the distinction between these two Greek terms over into English. This article challenges the orthodox view that morphē and eidos are synonymous. Careful analysis of texts from the Categories, Physics and Metaphysics in which these terms appear in close proximity reveals a fundamental tension of Aristotle’s thinking concerning the being of natural beings. Morphē designates the form as inseparable from the matter in which it inheres, while eidos, because it is more easily separated from matter, is the vocabulary used to determine form as the ontological principle of the composite individual. The tension between morphē and eidos–between form as irreducibly immanent and yet somehow separate–is then shown to animate Aristotle’s phenomenological approach to the being of natural beings. This approach is most clearly enacted in Aristotle’s biology, a consideration of which concludes the essay.

The Politics of Music

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Long, Christopher P. “Socrates and the Politics of Music: Preludes of the Republic,” Polis 24, no. 1 (2007).

At least since the appearance of Aristotle’s Politics, Plato’s Republic has been read as arguing for a politics of unity in which difference is understood as a threat to the polis. By focusing on the musical imagery of the Republic, and specifically on its compositional organization around three “preludes,” this essay seeks an understanding of Socratic politics that moves beyond the hypothesis of unity.

In the first “prelude,” Thrasymachus and his insistence that justice is the self-interest of the stronger threatens to subject the harmony of the community to the tyrannical whims of the individual.

In the second, the perfected justice of Adeimantus’s city threatens to destroy the erotic rhythm of difference that is the very condition for the possibility of the polis.

It is only in the song of dialectic, which itself is called a “prelude,” that the tension between the rhythm of plurality and the rational homophony of unity is dynamically tuned in such a way that both the anarchic politics of self-interest and the totalitarian politics of rationalized oppression are equally muted. This conception of politics is embodied in the relationship that emerges between Glaucon and Socrates. Ultimately, the true political community is established here, between rational, erotic individuals seeking justice in concrete, living dialogue.

Polis has generously allowed me to make the full text of this article available in my Humanities Commons repository:

Socrates and the Politics of Music: Preludes of the Republic

Saving the Things Said

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Long, Christopher P. “Saving ta legomena: Aristotle and the History of Philosophy,” The Review of Metaphysics 60 (2006): 247-267.

By taking seriously the extent to which Aristotle understands the things said (ta legemona) by his predecessors as genuine phenomena that express something of the truth about beings, this essay challenges the orthodox understanding of Aristotle’s approach to the history of philosophy as merely a thinly veiled attempt to legitimize the authority of his own philosophical ideas. Drawing on both the continental phenomenological approach to Aristotle and the Anglo-American analytic and pragmatic recognition of the important role an orientation toward ta phainomena play in Aristotle’s method, this article turns to two specific texts—the Physics and the Parts of Animals—to articulate how Aristotle’s engagement with his historical predecessors is itself an integral moment of his philosophical investigation into the being of natural beings.

John Herman Randall and Hans Georg-Gadamer provide the conceptual vocabulary through which Aristotle’s engagement with his predecessors can be best understood; for each in his own way expresses the view that genuine philosophy opens new possibilities for the future by critically engaging the past. The essay concludes by suggesting at once the limitations of Aristotle’s approach to his predecessors and the continuing importance of his recognition that philosophy cannot be pursued in isolation from its history.

The Review of Metaphysics has generously allowed me to make the full text of this article available in .pdf format. Read it here:

Between the Universal and the Singular in Aristotle

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This essay attempts to uncover the ideology of form that operates in an unquestioned way in much philological scholarship concerning Aristotle’s thinking.  Drawing on four different interpretations of form in Aristotle, that of Joseph Owens, Edward Halper, Michael Frede and Günter Patzig, and Michael Loux, this essay attempts to show the manner in which Aristotle’s logos concerning being in the Metaphysics reflects its own conditioned finitude. This emphasis on the finitude of the Aristotelian logos opens a way to articulate the ideological tendencies endemic to the attempt to think being in terms of form.  The essay concludes with an account of ontological justice as an attempt to address the individuality of the individual as such without reducing it to particularity, a mere instance of the coercive universal.
Long, Christopher.  “Between the Universal and the Singular in Aristotle.” Telos 126, (2003): 25-40.
Telos has generously permitted me to make the full text of this article available here in pdf format: Click this link to view and download the article.

Dancing Naked with Socrates

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Long, Christopher P. “Dancing Naked with Socrates: Pericles, Aspasia and Socrates at Play with Politics, Rhetoric and Philosophy,” Ancient Philosophy 23, 1 (2003): 49-69.

This article offers an interpretation of Plato’s Menexenus in which the figure of Socrates emerges as critical of both the Periclean and Aspasian vision of politics. By speaking in the voice of Aspasia in the Menexenus, Socrates is able to draw out the limitations of the Periclean politics of freedom without straightforwardly identifying himself with the Aspasian politics of care. By distancing himself from both positions, Socrates elucidates the limitations of each: The Periclean vision of politics is grounded in a conception of self-sufficiency that leads to imperialism, the Aspasian in the dangerous myth of autochthony. Socrates’ playful dialogue with Menexenus, and Menexenus’ incapacity to appreciate the ambiguity and nuance of the Socratic position, lend new insight into the meaning and nature of philosophical citizenship. Socrates, as the philosopher citizen, distances himself from two main ideological visions of politics in such a way that a new conception of politics emerges, one grounded as much in justice as in freedom.

Ancient Philosophy has generously allowed me to make the full text of this article available in .pdf format:

Dancing Naked with Socrates: Pericles, Aspasia and Socrates at Play with Politics, Rhetoric and Philosophy by Christopher Long

The Ethical Culmination of Aristotle’s Metaphysics

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Long, Christopher P. “The Ethical Culmination of Aristotle’s Metaphysics,” Epoché 8, 1 (Fall 2003): 121-140.

This article takes up the rather bold philosophical suggestion that Aristotle’s Metaphysics culminates not in the purity of God’s self-thinking found in book XII, but rather in the far more ambiguous set of contingent principles found in the Nicomachean Ethics. The suggestion defended is not that Aristotle intended this itinerary for the Metaphysics, but rather that the text itself leads us in this direction. Taking its cue from such contemporary thinkers as Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Theodor Adorno and Emmanuel Levinas, the article attempts to think through the relationship between ethics and ontology by reinvestigating the relationship between Aristotle’s Metaphysics and his Nicomachean Ethics. It is argued that the ontological conception of praxis developed in the middle books of the Metaphysics points already to the Nicomachean Ethics where a conception of knowledge—phronêsis—is developed that is capable of addressing the lacuna in the account of ontological knowledge offered in the Metaphysics.

Totalizing Identities

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Long, Christopher P. “Totalizing Identities: The Ambiguous Legacy of Aristotle and Hegel after Auschwitz,” Philosophy and Social Criticism 29, 2 (2003): 213-244.

The Holocaust throws the study of the history of philosophy into crisis. Critiques of Western thinking leveled by such thinkers as Adorno, Levinas, and more recently by so-called “postmodern” theorists have suggested that Western philosophy is inherently totalizing, and that it must be read differently or altogether abandoned after Auschwitz. This article intentionally re-reads Aristotle and Hegel, two philosophers who have to some justifiable degree been indicted for the totalizing tendencies of their thinking, through the shattered lens of the Holocaust in order not only to locate the dangerous dimensions of the legacy of such thinking, but also to show how such a re-reading of the history of philosophy may locate other, more liberating aspects of the tradition. The article focuses on the question of ontological identity. By investigating the manner in which the totalizing dimensions of Aristotle’s thinking are both eclipsed and implicitly endorsed by Hegel’s appropriation of Aristotle’s conception of God, and further by following the surplus of Hegel’s misinterpretation back into the heart of Aristotle’s ontology where we find a more open conception of ontological identity, we come to recognize not only the dangers endemic to certain strands of traditional philosophical thinking, but also the resources the history of this thinking itself brings to bear on the attempt to do justice to ontological identity after Auschwitz.

With the generous permission of Philosophy and Social Criticism, you may download the full text of this article in .pdf format by clicking here.

The Ontological Reappropriation of Phronesis

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Long, Christopher P. “The Ontological Reappropriation of Phronesis,” Continental Philosophy Review 35, 1 (2002): 35-60.

Ontology has been traditionally guided by sophia, a form of knowledge directed toward that which is eternal, permanent, necessary. This tradition finds an important early expression in the philosophical ontology of Aristotle. Yet in the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle’s intense concern to do justice to the world of finite contingency leads him to develop a mode of knowledge, phronêsis, that implicitly challenges the hegemony of sophia and the economy of values on which it depends. Following in the tradition of the early Heidegger’s recognition of the ontological significance of Aristotle’s Ethics and of Gadamer’s appropriation of phronêsis for hermeneutics, this article argues that an ontology guided by phronêsis is preferable to one governed by sophia. Specifically, it suggests that by taking sophia as its paradigm, traditional philosophical ontology has historically been determined by a kind of knowledge that is incapable of critically considering the concrete historico-ethico-political conditions of its own deployment. This critique of sophia is accomplished by uncovering the economy of values that led Aristotle to privilege sophia over phronêsis. It is intended to open up the possibility of developing an ontology of finite contingency based on phronêsis. Such an ontology, because it is guided by and must remain responsible to the concrete individual with which it is engaged, would be ethical at its very core.

The Rhetoric of Spinoza

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Long, Christopher P. “The Rhetoric of the Geometrical Method: Spinoza’s Double Strategy,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 34, 4 (2001).

Rather than adopting an uncritical conception of the geometrical method as optimal due to its inherent objectivity, this article delineates the rhetorical power of the geometrical method as it is deployed by Spinoza in the Ethics. Specifically, the article focuses on the first fourteen propositions of the Ethics in order to illustrate how they are strategically set forth in an attempt to draw someone well versed in Cartesian doctrine into an argument intent on undermining the basic premises of the Cartesian metaphysical position.

Between Reification and Mystification

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Lee, Richard A. and Christopher P. Long “Between Reification and Mystification: Rethinking the Economy of Principles,” Telos 120 (2001): 92-112.

While the rhetoric of the “end of metaphysics” is guided by a well-founded concern to call into question the hegemonic function of principles, it remains misguided insofar as it rejects the entire history of Western thinking as totalizing. While this article recognizes this legacy of totalizing thinking, it also seeks to locate another tendency endemic to the history of Western philosophy, a tendency that recognizes the irreducibility of the individual. We trace this other tendency from Aristotle, through Ockham and ultimately to Adorno.

In the process, we take issue with the Heideggerian response to the “end of metaphysics” insofar as it seems to annihilate the possibility of critique. Finally, we develop a conception of “critically transformative action” in which the coercive dimension of principles is recognized even as principles themselves are continually deployed against the very structures of power in which they are always embedded.

Art's Fateful Hour

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Long, Christopher P. “Art’s Fateful Hour: Benjamin, Heidegger, Art and Politics,” New German Critique 83 (2001): 89-115.

In 1935 Walter Benjamin wrote that “art’s fateful hour has struck” and that he had “captured its signature” in his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Technical Reproduction.” Less than a month after these words were written, Martin Heidegger gave a lecture entitled “The Origin of the Work of Art” in Freiburg. These two philosophical reflections on the nature of art, written in the lengthening shadow of European fascism, are brought into relation with one another in this essay in order to draw out the relationship between art and politics in the thinking of Benjamin and Heidegger.

By focusing on Benjamin’s conception of the “aura” of the work of art, the article juxtaposes Benjamin’s attempt to locate the critical and emancipatory dimensions of art with Heidegger’s attempt to reinvigorate the aura in order to establish an authentic relation to the origin that might serve as fertile ground for a new vision of politics.

With the generous permission of the New German Critique, you may download the full text of this article in .pdf format by clicking here.

Art’s Fateful Hour: Benjamin, Heidegger, Art and Politics by Christopher Long

The Hegemony of Form and the Resistance of Matter

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Long, Christopher P. “The Hegemony of Form and the Resistance of Matter,” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 21, 2 (1999): 21-46.
This article offers an interpretation of the transition that occurs in Physics A.7, in which Aristotle establishes an important new role for form in accounting for ontological identity. It then turns to Heidegger’s interpretation of Aristotle’s conception of physis in order to show the dangers, both ontological and ethical, endemic to Heidegger’s absolute affirmation of the notion of form in Aristotle. Finally, by way of Aristotle’s biological writings and Metaphysics, the article suggests that Aristotle cannot, and in fact did not, reject the important role matter has to play in establishing ontological identity.

Arendt on the Family

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Long, Christopher P. “A Fissure in the Distinction: Hannah Arendt, The Family and the Public/Private Dichotomy,” Philosophy and Social Criticism 24, 5 (1998): 85-104.

By way of an analysis of Arendt’s defense of the public/private distinction in The Human Condition, this essay attempts to offer a re-interpretation of the status of the family as a realm where the categories of action and speech play a vital role. The traditional criteria for the establishment of the public/private distinction is grounded in an idealization of the family as a sphere where a unity of interests destroys the conditions for the categories of action and speech. This essay takes issue with this assumption and argues that the traditional conception has had a pernicious effect not only on women, but on men as well. This argument is supported by locating a fissure in Arendt’s analysis of this distinction which suggests a profound structural affinity between the public realm and the family.

With the generous permission of Philosophy and Social Criticism, you may download the full text of this article in .pdf format by clicking here.

The Understanding and Imagination in Kant

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Long, Christopher P. “Two Powers, One Ability: The Understanding and Imagination in Kant’s Critical Philosophy,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy XXXVI, 2 (1998): 233-253.

In order to suggest why Kant does not offer an explicit argument for the necessary connection between the synthesis of the imagination and the categories, this article argues that the productive imagination and the understanding are in fact two aspects of one and the same ability (Vermögen), and further, that their identity may be thought in such a way that, while understanding and sensibility are necessarily linked, they are not related to one another such that humans are granted the power of intellectual intuition. Finally, the essay turns to the Critique of Judgment in order to reinforce this interpretation by suggesting that the explicit thematization of the relation between the understanding and imagination found there is fundamentally consistent with and, in fact, deepens the position developed in the B deduction.

With the generous permission of The Southern Journal of Philosophy, you may download the full text of this article in .pdf format by clicking here.

Reluctant Transcendence

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Long, Christopher P. “Reluctant Transcendence: The Face to Face in Levinas’s Totality and Infinity, Conference 5, 1 (1994): 19-34.

By investigating Levinas’ notion of the transcendence of the face to face against the backdrop of his own conception of traditional Western philosophy, the extent to which Levinas himself fails to transcend the very structure of western philosophy is elucidated.