Combining Philosophers

All the ideas for Sarah Bakewell, Stephen P. Schwartz and Max Weber

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17 ideas

1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 2. Phenomenology
Later phenomenologists tried hard to incorporate social relationships [Bakewell]
     Full Idea: Ever since Husserl, phenomenologists and existentialists had been trying to stretch the definition of existence to incorporate our social lives and relationships.
     From: Sarah Bakewell (At the Existentialist Café [2016], 08)
     A reaction: I see a parallel move in Wittgenstein's Private Language Argument. Husserl's later work seems to have been along those lines. Putnam's Twin Earth too.
Phenomenology begins from the immediate, rather than from axioms and theories [Bakewell]
     Full Idea: Traditional philosophy often started with abstract axioms or theories, but the German phenomenologists went straight for life as they experienced it, moment to moment.
     From: Sarah Bakewell (At the Existentialist Café [2016], 01)
     A reaction: Bakewell gives this as the gist of what Aron said to Sartre in 1933, providing the bridge from phenomenology to existentialism. The obvious thought is that everybody outside philosophy starts from immediate experience, so why is this philosophy?
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 5. Objectivity
There is no objectivity in social sciences - only viewpoints for selecting and organising data [Weber]
     Full Idea: There is no absolutely objective scientific analysis of 'social phenomena' independent of special and 'one-sided' viewpoints according to which expressly or tacitly, consciously or unconsciously they are selected and organised for expository purposes.
     From: Max Weber ('Objectivity' in Social Sciences and Social Policy [1904], p.72), quoted by Reiss,J/Spreger,J - Scientific Objectivity 5.1
     A reaction: Weber urged some objectivity by not judging agents' goals. Also see Idea 22367
The results of social research can be true, and not just subjectively valid for one person [Weber]
     Full Idea: Cultural sciences do not have results which are 'subjective' and only valid for one person and not others. ...For scientific truth is precisely what is valid for all who seek the truth.
     From: Max Weber ('Objectivity' in Social Sciences and Social Policy [1904], p.84), quoted by Reiss,J/Spreger,J - Scientific Objectivity 5.1
     A reaction: Weber said that although research interests are subjective, the social causes discovered can be objective.
2. Reason / D. Definition / 1. Definitions
The new view is that "water" is a name, and has no definition [Schwartz,SP]
     Full Idea: Perhaps the modern view is best expressed as saying that "water" has no definition at all, at least in the traditional sense, and is a proper name of a specific substance.
     From: Stephen P. Schwartz (Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds [1977], §III)
     A reaction: This assumes that proper names have no definitions, though I am not clear how we can grasp the name 'Aristotle' without some association of properties (human, for example) to go with it. We need a definition of 'definition'.
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / b. Names as descriptive
We refer to Thales successfully by name, even if all descriptions of him are false [Schwartz,SP]
     Full Idea: We can refer to Thales by using the name "Thales" even though perhaps the only description we can supply is false of him.
     From: Stephen P. Schwartz (Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds [1977], §III)
     A reaction: It is not clear what we would be referring to if all of our descriptions (even 'Greek philosopher') were false. If an archaeologist finds just a scrap of stone with a name written on it, that is hardly a sufficient basis for successful reference.
The traditional theory of names says some of the descriptions must be correct [Schwartz,SP]
     Full Idea: The traditional theory of proper names entails that at least some combination of the things ordinarily believed of Aristotle are necessarily true of him.
     From: Stephen P. Schwartz (Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds [1977], §III)
     A reaction: Searle endorses this traditional theory. Kripke and co. tried to dismiss it, but you can't. If all descriptions of Aristotle turned out to be false (it was actually the name of a Persian statue), our modern references would have been unsuccessful.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / d. Explaining people
Nature requires causal explanations, but society requires clarification by reasons and motives [Weber, by Critchley]
     Full Idea: Weber coined the distinction between explanation and clarification, saying that natural phenomena require causal explanation, while social phenomena require clarification by giving reasons or offering possible motives for how things are.
     From: report of Max Weber (works [1905]) by Simon Critchley - Continental Philosophy - V. Short Intro Ch.7
     A reaction: This is music to the ears of property dualists and other non-reductivists, but if you go midway in the hierarchy of animals (a mouse, say) the distinction blurs. Weber probably hadn't digested Darwin, whose big impact came around 1905.
18. Thought / C. Content / 8. Intension
The intension of "lemon" is the conjunction of properties associated with it [Schwartz,SP]
     Full Idea: The conjunction of properties associated with a term such as "lemon" is often called the intension of the term "lemon".
     From: Stephen P. Schwartz (Intro to Naming,Necessity and Natural Kinds [1977], §II)
     A reaction: The extension of "lemon" is the set of all lemons. At last, a clear explanation of the word 'intension'! The debate becomes clear - over whether the terms of a language are used in reference to ideas of properties (and substances?), or to external items.
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / b. Fact and value
We are disenchanted because we rely on science, which ignores values [Weber, by Boulter]
     Full Idea: Weber contends that modern western civilisation is 'disenchanted' because our society's method of arriving at beliefs about the world, that is, the sciences, is unable to address questions of value.
     From: report of Max Weber (works [1905]) by Stephen Boulter - Why Medieval Philosophy Matters 6
     A reaction: This idea, made explicit by Hume's empirical attitude to values, is obviously of major importance. For we Aristotelians values are a self-evident aspect of nature. Boulter says philosophy has added to the disenchantment. I agree.
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
The idea of duty in one's calling haunts us, like a lost religion [Weber]
     Full Idea: The idea of duty in one's calling prowls about in our lives like the ghost of dead religious beliefs.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], 5)
     A reaction: Great sentence! Vast scholarship boiled down to a simple and disturbing truth. I recognise this in me. Having been 'Head of Philosophy' once is partly what motivates me to compile these ideas.
24. Political Theory / C. Ruling a State / 1. Social Power
Domination is probable obedience by some group of persons [Weber]
     Full Idea: Domination is the probability that a command with a specific content will be obeyed by a given group of persons.
     From: Max Weber (Economy and Society [1919], p.53), quoted by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 06
     A reaction: Said to be an 'influential definition'. In principle you might have no domination, but be regularly obeyed because your commands were so acceptable to a very independent-minded group of people. That said, good definition!
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 11. Capitalism
Acquisition and low consumption lead to saving, investment, and increased wealth [Weber]
     Full Idea: If people are acquisitive but consumption is limited, the inevitable result is the accumulation of capital through the compulsion to save. The restraints on consumption naturally served to increase wealth by enabling the productive investment of capital.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], 5)
     A reaction: [compressed. He also quotes John Wesley saying this] In a nutshell, this is how the protestant ethic (esp. if puritan) drives capitalism. It also needs everyone to have a 'calling', and a rebellion against monasticism in favour of worldly work.
When asceticism emerged from the monasteries, it helped to drive the modern economy [Weber]
     Full Idea: When asceticism was carried out of the monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], 5)
     A reaction: Since Max Weber's time I should think this is less and less true. If you hunt for ascetics in the modern world, they are probably dropped out, and pursuing green politics. Industrialists are obsessed with property and wine.
Capitalism is not unlimited greed, and may even be opposed to greed [Weber]
     Full Idea: Unlimited greed for gain is not in the least identical with capitalism, and is still less in its spirit. Capitalism may even be identical with the restraint, or at least a rational tempering, of this irrational impulse.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], Author's Intro)
     A reaction: The point is that profits have to be re-invested, rather than spent on pleasure. If we are stuck with capitalism we need a theory of Ethical Capitalism.
Modern western capitalism has free labour, business separate from household, and book-keeping [Weber]
     Full Idea: The modern Occident has developed a very different form of capitalism: the rational capitalist organisation of free labour …which needed two other factors: the separation of the business from the household, and the closely connected rational book-keeping.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], Author's Intro)
     A reaction: For small businesses the separation has to be maintained by a ruthless effort of imagination. Book-keeping is because the measure of loss and profit is the engine of the whole game. Labour had to be dragged free of family and community.
29. Religion / B. Monotheistic Religion / 4. Christianity / a. Christianity
Punish the heretic, but be indulgent to the sinner [Weber]
     Full Idea: The rule of the Catholic church is 'punishing the heretic, but indulgent of the sinner'.
     From: Max Weber (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism [1904], 1)
     A reaction: Weber cites this as if it is a folklore saying. It seems to fit the teachings of Jesus, who is intensely keen on unwavering faith, but very kind to those who stray morally. Hence Graham Greene novels, all about sinners.