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Sigrid Weigel

Sigrid Weigel verfolgt die Kontaminierung des Generationengedächtnisses »nach 1945« durch eine monetäre Symbolik und deckt auf, wie vormoderne Konzepte der Entschädigung bis heute nachwirken.
Im Lichte der gegenwärtigen Debatte über die Verschuldung und die moralische Schuld gegenüber künftigen Generationen werden verschiedene Stationen der Konversion von Schuld und Schulden untersucht. Die Symbolik von Schuld und Zins, die im Gedächtnis »nach 1945« am Werk ist, wird als Wiederkehr dessen gedeutet, was im Projekt der »Wiedergutmachung« verdrängt und aus ihm herausgefallen ist: die an-ökonomischen Anteile dieser Art Entschädigung. Symptome dafür sind das Begehren nach einer Reinheit des Geldes und die Wiederkehr der Shylock-Figur auf die Bühne. Diese gegenwärtigen Schauplätze werden in kultur- und literaturgeschichtlichen Ausblicken vertieft: auf die plurale Semantik der Konversion, die kultische Herkunft des Geldes, vor-monetäre Formen der Entschädigung und Shakespeares geniale Inszenierung der unheilvollen Verquickung von genealogischer und monetärer Logik im Kaufmann von Venedig.

Josh Brandt

At the outset of the Republic, Polemarchus advances the bold thesis that “justice is the art which gives benefit to friends and injury to enemies”. He quickly rejects the hypothesis, and what follows is a long tradition of neglecting the ethics of enmity. The parallel issue of how friendship (and other positive relationships) affects the moral sphere has, by contrast, been greatly illuminated by discussions both ancient and contemporary. This article connects this existing work to the less explored topic of the normative significance of our negative relationships. I explain how negative partiality should be conceptualized through reference to the positive analogue, and argue that at least some forms of negative partiality are justified. I further explore the connection between positive and negative relationships by showing how both are justified by ongoing histories of encounter (though of different kinds). However, I also argue that these relationships are in some important ways asymmetrical (i.e. friendship is not the mirror image of enmity).

Olga Petri

Abstract

This article explores a stylized version of “natural” birdsong as an element of the soundscape of a historical city, late-nineteenth-century St. Petersburg. From 1880 to 1900, canaries were brought to the city in great numbers from hatcheries located in the Russian countryside. Their song was the ovsîanka, a mix of melodies acquired from wild Russian birds. This song reflects “enhanced nature,” linking human intentionality to the agency of a nonhuman animal, the canary, and both to the city. Breeders, merchants, keepers, and birds formed a super-urban assemblage spanning the city and the countryside. Canaries, like human migrants flooding to the city during this time, retained their strong village roots, and their urban role depended on them. In this super-urban assemblage, the canaries’ urban performance was an expression of their modified and contextual agency, though their agency was assembled and authorized by human-nonhuman networks engendered by the city.

Andrea Petitt and Camilla Eriksson

Abstract

Dairy cows provide a spectacular example of what can be achieved with purposeful breeding of nonhuman animals in terms of increasing production and bodily adaptation to particular production systems. This implies that humans can make nonhuman bodies take whatever form they desire. However, the assumption that breeding outcomes are entirely shaped by humans has been criticized. This article contributes to ongoing discussions of breeds as socially constructed and applies a focus on cattle actions. Within a more-than-human biopower framework, cattle actions and ways of “doing” cattle are integral to both the notion and the future of the breed. This ethnography of breeding Swedish Mountain Cattle provides a detailed account of the mutual subjectification of cattle and farmers within an agricultural context, revealing the scope and limits of cattle agency and how “doing” cattle affects individuals and populations.

Flavio A. Geisshuesler

Abstract

This article proposes a 7E model of the human mind, which was developed within the cognitive paradigm in religious studies and its primary expression, the Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR). This study draws on the philosophically most sophisticated currents in the cognitive sciences, which have come to define the human mind through a 4E model as embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended. Introducing Catherine Malabou’s concept of “plasticity,” the study not only confirms the insight of the 4E model of the self as a decentered system, but it also recommends two further traits of the self that have been overlooked in the cognitive sciences, namely the negativity of plasticity and the tension between giving and receiving form. Finally, the article matures these philosophical insights to develop a concrete model of the religious mind, equipping it with three further Es, namely emotional, evolved, and exoconscious.

Jozef Müller

Abstract

Why do human beings, on Aristotle’s view, have an innate tendency to badness, that is, to developing desires that go beyond and against their natural needs? Given Aristotle’s teleological assumptions (including the thesis that nature does nothing in vain), such tendency should not be present. I argue that the culprit is to be found in the workings of rationality, in particular in the (necessary) presence of theoretical reason. As theoretical reason requires that human beings have unlimited non-rational desires for the fine (to kalon), it also gives rise to a tendency to form unlimited non-rational desires for other things.

Stefaan Blancke, Maarten Boudry and Johan Braeckman

Abstract

Pseudoscience spreads through communicative and inferential processes that make people vulnerable to weird beliefs. However, the fact that pseudoscientific beliefs are unsubstantiated and have no basis in reality does not mean that the people who hold them have no reasons for doing so. We propose that, reasons play a central role in the diffusion of pseudoscience. On the basis of cultural epidemiology and the interactionist theory of reasoning, we will here analyse the structure and the function of reasons in the propagation of pseudoscience. We conclude by discussing the implications of our approach for the understanding of human irrationality.

Ryan Nichols, Henrike Moll and Jacob L. Mackey

Abstract

This essay discusses Cecilia Heyes’ groundbreaking new book Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking. Heyes’ point of departure is the claim that current theories of cultural evolution fail adequately to make a place for the mind. Heyes articulates a cognitive psychology of cultural evolution by explaining how eponymous “cognitive gadgets,” such as imitation, mindreading and language, mental technologies, are “tuned” and “assembled” through social interaction and cultural learning. After recapitulating her explanations for the cultural and psychological origins of these gadgets, we turn to criticisms. Among those, we find Heyes’ use of evolutionary theory confusing on several points of importance; alternative theories of cultural evolution, especially those of the Tomasello group and of Boyd, Richerson and Henrich, are misrepresented; the book neglects joint attention and other forms of intersubjectivity in its explanation of the origins of cognitive gadgets; and, whereas Heyes accuses other theories of being “mindblind,” we find her theory ironically other-blind and autistic in character.

Robert N. McCauley, George Graham and A. C. Reid

Abstract

The cognitive science of religions’ By-Product Theory contends that much religious thought and behavior can be explained in terms of the cultural activation of maturationally natural cognitive systems. Those systems address fundamental problems of human survival, encompassing such capacities as hazard precautions, agency detection, language processing, and theory of mind. Across cultures they typically arise effortlessly and unconsciously during early childhood. They are not taught and appear independent of general intelligence. Theory of mind (mentalizing) undergirds an instantaneous and automatic intuitive understanding of minds, mental representations, and their implications for agents’ actions. By-Product theorists hypothesize about a social cognition content bias, holding that mentalizing capacities inform participants’ implicit understanding of religious representations of agents with counter-intuitive properties. That hypothesis, in combination with Baron-Cohen’s account of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in terms of diminished theory of mind capacities (what he calls “mind-blindness”), suggests an impaired religious understanding hypothesis. It proposes that people with ASD have substantial limitations in intuitive understanding of and creative inferences from such representations. Norenzayan argues for a mind-blind atheism hypothesis, which asserts that the truth of these first two hypotheses suggests that people with ASD have an increased probability, compared to the general population, of being atheists. Numerous empirical studies have explored these three hypotheses’ merits. After carefully pondering distinctions between intuitive versus reflective mentalizing and between explicit versus implicit measures and affective versus cognitive measures of mentalizing, the available empirical evidence provides substantial support for the first two hypotheses and non-trivial support for the third.

Philipp Brüllmann

Abstract

David Furley has suggested that we think of Callicles’ immoralism as attacking a thick concept. I take up this suggestion and apply it to the argument of Plato’s Gorgias more generally. I show that the discussion between Socrates, Gorgias and Polus, which prepares the ground for Callicles, is precisely addressing the thickness of the concept of justice: it reveals that this concept is both descriptive and evaluative and that formulating a revisionist position about justice is therefore extremely difficult. Callicles’ strategy is best read as a response to this difficulty, which sets the stage for Socrates’ revisionist account of justice.