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By Raymond Geuss

Wishful pondering is a deeply ingrained human trait that has had a long term distorting influence on moral considering. Many influential moral perspectives rely on the confident assumption that, regardless of appearances on the contrary, the human and wildlife during which we are living may well, finally, be made to make feel to us. In A international with no Why, Raymond Geuss demanding situations this assumption.

The essays during this collection--several of that are released the following for the 1st time--explore the genesis and old improvement of this confident configuration in moral notion and the ways that it has proven itself to be unfounded and inaccurate. Discussions of Greco-Roman antiquity and of the philosophies of Socrates, Plato, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Adorno play a primary position in lots of of those essays. Geuss additionally levels over such subject matters because the options of intelligibility, authority, democracy, and feedback; the position of mendacity in politics; structure; where of theology in ethics; tragedy and comedy; and the fight among realism and our look for meaning.

Characterized by way of Geuss's wide-ranging pursuits in literature, philosophy, and heritage, and by way of his political dedication and trenchant type, A global with no Why increases primary questions about the viability not only of particular moral ideas and theses, yet of our most elementary assumptions approximately what ethics might and needs to be.

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A World without Why

Wishful considering is a deeply ingrained human trait that has had a long term distorting impression on moral considering. Many influential moral perspectives depend upon the positive assumption that, regardless of appearances on the contrary, the human and flora and fauna during which we are living may possibly, finally, be made to make feel to us.

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In Hegel’s 1823 lectures on aesthetics, we find the claim that although historically certain ethical communities may not have reached the stage of forming abstract representations, this does not mean that such representations do not lie concealed in the various sensory images of which their mythologies are made up. 42 This suggests that although the idea of the infinite or unconditioned, which forms the content of the symbolic form of art and the various oriental religions that exemplify it, may not have been one that human beings consciously sought to present in sensory form, this idea was nevertheless the true content of their mythologies and religions.

This will be seen to have some important implications in relation to the structure of Hegel’s theory of absolute spirit, since this structure begins to look problematic once the idea that the transition from a religion of art to a religion that has emancipated itself from art, in the sense of no longer having to bring its content to consciousness by aesthetic means, can no longer be viewed as a necessary one. Moreover, beyond such systematic issues, the implications of this failure to explain the necessity of the transition from art to religion will enable me to provide further reasons as to why Hegel’s lectures on aesthetics should be understood in terms of his theory of objective spirit.

In the light of all that has been said above, Hegel’s account of the symbolic form of art appears to support the idea that for him the truth of the aesthetic realm is ultimately to be sought in something that transcends the latter, and that this truth consequently needs to be brought to consciousness by other, non-aesthetic means. The possibility of doing so is, moreover, suggested not only by the way in which Judaism’s comprehension of the fact that the infinite or unconditioned does not lend itself to forming the object of a single intuition points to the emancipation of religion from an aesthetic means of bringing the divine to consciousness, but also by the way in which Spinoza’s theory of substance, say, or Kant’s account of the transcendental ideal, involve recognizing that this content can only be thought and that genuine knowledge of it consequently belongs to philosophy.

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