BA - Philosophy

Chronik der philosophischen Werke: von der Erfindung des Buchdrucks bis ins 20. Jahrhundert [Chronology of Philosophical Works: From the Invention of Printing to the 20th Century]. Ed. Arnim Regenbogen. Hamburg: Meiner, 2012. xx, 639 p. ill. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-7873-2146-9: EUR 68 [11-4]

The historical watershed of the invention of printing is the point of departure for this work, which takes a different approach from existing philosophical lexicons (for example, the Großes Werklexikon der Philosophie (see RREA 6:81). The entries in the present work are limited to (primarily) bibliographical data on individual titles seminal to the history of philosophy. Although each century is introduced with a brief historical overview, the main value of the work is its presentation of the most important works in philosophical history, in the order of their first publication. The individual entries contain, besides the publication year, the author, the title, and a summary of the content, often including detailed references to particular sections. The first publication of a work as part of the author’s complete works is also listed separately. Although the entries contain purely factual information without interpretation, the object of this work is not just to provide a comprehensive list of first editions, but rather to illuminate the relationship of each work to the prevailing philosophical discussion of its time. In demonstrating which works appeared contemporaneously or very close to one another, the user is stimulated to consider the intellectual constellations that contribute to philosophical developments.

Due to the post-Gutenberg focus, only texts printed since his time are included. Works of classical and medieval philosophy are, however, represented, since these were among the earliest printed books, and it was at this time that these works first became available to a wider circle of readers. The entries are in the order of the first published edition of a work in the language in which it was written. Because this date can often be quite different from the date of composition, many entries contain additional information to enable the user to reconstruct the temporal sequence of the texts. For example, we learn that Descartes’ Regulae ad directionem ingenii was first published in 1701, but that Descartes last edited this work in 1628, and that it circulated among Descartes’ associates and was frequently cited at this period. We also learn that a Dutch translation appeared in 1684. Thus the relatively late date of the first publication does not mean that the text was without influence before then.

With regard to the titles included it is safe to say that all major works of (Western) philosophy are represented. For many philosophers this is a large number of individual titles, but for others it could be a single essay, as in the case of Charles Sanders Peirce’s How to Make Our Ideas Clear. Some of the authors included, for example, the utopian socialists Louis Blanc Etienne Cabet or Theodor Dezamy, are unexpected since their works do not play an important role in standard philosophical histories. The latest title included is from 1988 (by Nelson Goodman and Catherine Elgin), leaving it to the reader to ponder which works of the last 25 years will be of lasting importance.

This work is a useful source of information even for those not primarily interested in temporal relationships. There are other lexicons of philosophy available (for example, the 2011 three-volume Enzyklopädie Philosophie (see IFB 19, Heft 2), and the information offered here serves as a valuable complement to them. The research value of this work is further increased by a detailed index of titles and title key words, as well as an author index. [tk/jc]

Departure for Modern Europe: A Handbook of Early Modern Philosophy (1400- 1700). Ed. Hubertus Busche and Stefan Heßbrüggen-Walter. Hamburg: Meiner, 2011. xvi, 1262 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-78-73-2131-5: EUR 128 [11-2]

This book is not a systematically conceived handbook but rather a compilation of lectures held at the First International Congress of the European Society for Early Modern Philosophy in March 2007 in Essen, Germany. As is usually the case at such conferences, the contributed essays are driven by the interests of the various participants and not necessarily by those of the editor. Thus, this work lacks a fundamental unifying concept, and the picture of early modern philosophy that emerges is a many-faceted one. Still, one can say that the essays do reflect in varying degrees the current state of research about this period, in some cases too briefly summarized. By contrast, another “handbook” written for the same audience, Diskurse der Gelehrtenkultur in der frühen Neuzeit [Discourses about the Intellectual Life of the Early Modern Period] (Berlin, 2011—see IFB 18, Heft 1) offers more in-depth essays on a variety of topics and includes a name index, which the work in hand does not. This omission prevents the work from functioning well as a reference work, making it difficult to locate passages about a particular philosopher, for example.

Although the title of the work is in English, some essays are written in German or French. In some sections, one paragraph is written in English, others in German. Thus, the book is most useful for readers who are proficient in both languages.

Together the essays give a picture of the “cultures of knowledge” in the Early Modern period (from 1400 to 1700), in five central aspects of thought: (1) self-reflection of the philosophy of this era, (2) analysis of the knowledge of nature during this period, (3) knowledge of the human being, (4) knowledge about human actions, and (5) the relationship of the knowledge of this era to its political and social environment. The volume serves to deepen one’s knowledge of various aspects of the philosophy of the Early Modern period and to make one aware of the significance of this period for philosophy in general. Although the work contains much interesting and useful material, it does not function well as a reference work. [tk/akb]

Dictionary of Philosophical Terms: German-English, English-German = Wörterbuch philosophischer Fachbegriffe Elmar Waibl and Philip Herdina. 2d rev. ed. Wien: Facultas, 2011. xxix, 1135 p. ill. 24 cm. (UTB, 8440: Philosophie). ISBN 978- 3-8252-84404: EUR 39.90 [11-2]

In view of the great importance of the English language in contemporary philosophy, a dictionary of philosophical terms such as this can be a very useful tool for German-speaking scholars. This dictionary is meant for the user who is already familiar with the subject and needs only to find the equivalent of a term in German or English. For an explanation of the terms one must look elsewhere, and there are plenty of resources designed for that purpose. One caveat: since no definitions are given, one cannot be sure that the term given is really the right one, unless one already knows the meaning of the term.

Each entry indicates the area of philosophy to which the term relates. In some cases, there is a reference to the thinker or author who coined a particular term. When a concept is especially relevant to a certain philosophical work, it is referenced in the entry in abbreviated form. Titles and their authors can be found in the indexes, given in both languages.

The editors claim that the accuracy and usage of the terms has been checked by experts in the field. To what extent this is true will only become apparent as the dictionary is used. Some entries are questionable. For example, the German equivalent of textual criticism is correctly given as Textkritik, but it is followed by the term textueller Kritizismus, which sounds like a bad or inaccurate translation. In any case, the work provides an opportunity to reexamine the terms used to describe philosophical concepts in both languages and to expand one’s vocabulary.

The original 1997 two-volume edition (see IFB 00-1/4-108), published by Saur and Routledge, is still available for EUR 229. By comparison, this streamlined new edition at a modest EUR 39.90 seems like a bargain, although it is a paperback. This dictionary is indispensible for scholars, translators, lecturers, and students, especially those who wish to publish in English-language journals. The dictionary would also be a valuable addition to all libraries serving users who work with German texts in the humanities. [tk/akb]

Handbuch Ethik [Ethics Handbook]. Ed. Marcus Düwell. 3d updated ed. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler, 2011. xi, 599 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-476-02388- 9: EUR 49.95 [11-4]

This publication has been updated to take account of the continuing discussion of ethical questions since the second (revised and expanded) edition in 2005 (see IFB 04-1-089). The first edition was published in 2002.

The book is divided into three sections. The first presents systematically basic types of ethical theories, such as teleological and deontological approaches. The presentation is informative and clear. The second section pays special attention to areas of applied ethics such as bioethics, genetics, research, the media, medicine, technology, the environment, and animal rights. The third section supplements these survey sections with a lexicon of “Key Concepts of Ethics,” which contains 53 entries from Anerkennung (“Respect/ acceptance”) to Zweck/Ziel (“Purpose/goal”). Users will gladly take advantage of the basic orientation the book offers.

The handbook provides a distinctly useful reference source for the reader concerned with ethics and morals. [tk/rc]

Neues Handbuch philosophischer Grundbegriffe [New Handbook of Philosophical Terms]. Hermann Krings, Hans Michael Baumgartner, and Christoph Wild. Ed. Petra Kolmer and Armin G. Wildfeuer, with Wolfram Hogrebe. New ed. 3 vols. Freiburg im Breisgau: Alber, 2011. x, 2698 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-495- 48222-3: EUR 120 [12-2]

Previously published as the three-volume work Handbuch philosophischer Grundbegriffe (München, 1973-74), this new edition joins numerous other reference works devoted to philosophical terminology. Without a basic definition and explanation of philosophical concepts, it would be impossible to carry on any sort of meaningful philosophical discourse. For those looking for a more concise explanation of terms, good one-volume works are available, and three of the better ones are: the Metzler-Lexikon Philosophie (see RREA 14:64); the Kröner Philosophisches Wörterbuch (see RREA 15/16:65); and the Alber Philosophisches Wörterbuch (Freiburg, 2010—see IFB 19, Heft 1). The strongest competitor to a more comprehensive, encyclopedic reference work like the Neues Handbuch would probably be the Meiner Enzyklopädie Philosophie (Hamburg, 2010—see IFB 19, Heft 2) in three volumes, also available as an electronic resource on CD-ROM.

The original 1973 edition of the Handbuch did not seek merely to elucidate philosophical terms, but also to offer a philosophical contribution of its own. The authors of the new edition follow the same principle but wish to update the “rationalistic orientation” of the original by taking an approach that emphasizes hermeneutics and linguistic philosophy. Examples of terms explained in the handbook are “Aufklärung” [Enlightenment], “Klugheit” [intelligence], “Körper/Leib” [body]. In addition to defining each term, each article offers a discussion of contemporary interpretations of the concept. Every article begins with a brief outline and includes an extensive bibliography. Sources are cited in footnotes. The authors go out of their way to include current ideas and tendencies, and even somewhat unknown writers whose work adds another dimension to the key concepts discussed. The Neues Handbuch is a work of high quality, and a library that serves users in the humanities, particularly those engaged in philosophical research, will want to have it on their shelves. [tk/akb]

Von Diana zu Minerva: philosophierende Aristokratinnen des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts [From Diana to Minerva: Aristocratic Women Philosophers of the 17th and 18th Centuries]. Ed. Ruth Hagengruber, with Ana Rodrigues. Berlin: Adademie-Verlag, 2011. 181 p. ill. 22 cm. ISBN 978-3-05-004923-6: EUR 49.80 [12-1]

One of the interesting revisions in the history of philosophy is the increased attention given to women. Since the latter have played a relatively insignificant role in philosophical treatises, feminist scholars have often desperately sought women whose work could hold its own with the recognized greats in the field. The women most frequently mentioned are Christine de Pizan, Simone Weil, and Hannah Arendt. However, if one asks which women philosophers have made a lasting contribution and whose ideas still count today, the answer would present only a few names. Whereas Descartes is still a point of reference in any debate about basic philosophical questions, this is not true for his female contemporaries. Is this a false perception? Has history perhaps marginalized or even suppressed important contributions by women thinkers?

This small, attractive volume, which seeks to introduce “aristocratic women philosophers” of the 17th and 18th centuries to a wider audience, addresses these questions. The number of these aristocratic women appears to have been small. Thus, several articles focus on Elisabeth von Böhmen (who corresponded with Descartes) and Emilie du Châtelet. Editor Ruth Hagengruber has edited other works about the latter, Emilie du Châtelet between Leibniz and Newton (International Archives of the History of Ideas, 205) and a not yet published work, Naturlehre an ihren Sohn [Science for Her Son], which is to begin a new series about women philosophers, Historia mulierum philosopharum. Some of the women included were actively engaged and recognized as thinkers in their own right by their contemporaries, but for others philosophy was only a diversion. Du Châtelet’s argument with Mandeville’s radical thesis about the morality of egoism is presented in detail, whereas for some of the other women, in the absence of philosophical work of any substance, there is more emphasis on biographical information. Among the women discussed are Anne Conway, Margaret Cavendish, Elisabeth Christine (the Prussian queen and Duchess of Braunschweig-Bevern), and Friederike Charlotte Leopoldine Luise von Brandenburg-Schwedt.

This work will surely contribute to a more complete picture of the Enlightenment period and serve as a stimulus to further research about women philosophers. [tk/akb]

Jean Bodin: eine Einführung in sein Leben, sein Werk und seine Wirkung; mit einer Bibliographie zum geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Schrifttum über Bodin zwischen dem Jahr 1800 und dem Jahr 2010 [Jean Bodin: An Introduction to His Life, His Work, and His Influence; With a Bibliography of Humanities and Social Science Literature on Bodin from 1800 to 2010]. Peter Cornelius Mayer-Tasch. 2d rev. ed. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2011. 123 p. 24 cm. ISBN 978-3- 515-09898-4: EUR 22 [12-3]

This work on the life, thought, and legacy of French political philosopher, parliamentarian, lawyer, and legal theorist Jean Bodin (1530-1596), originally published in 2000, has been reissued with a bibliography updated to the year 2010. The work presents an overview of Bodin’s life, an examination of his works and theories and their influence on later political theorists. Bodin’s most important work is his treatise on government, Les six livres de la république [Six Books on the State], whose central concept is his theory of “sovereignty.” Against the background of the religious and political strife in France and Europe in the second half of the 16th century he argued that to maintain peace and civil order the state should have unlimited “sovereignty” and be subject to neither external nor internal restrictions. Bodin was one of the politiques, a group of moderate pragmatists for whom political considerations were more important than religious beliefs and who believed the government should be confessionally neutral. Bodin’s late work the Colloquium heptaplomeres [Colloquium of the Seven about Secrets of the Sublime] further explores church and state relations and presents a more subtle argument for religious tolerance than any other works of the period. Bodin is, however, also known for his infamous work “De la démonomanie des sorciers” [On the Demon- Mania of Witches], a treatise deeply steeped in medieval demon superstitions, and a highly problematic work for the “enlightened” reader of Bodin’s works.

This work presents an excellent overview of a political theorist who is of seminal significance for modern political thought, and it is recommended for all political science collections. Although the solutions Bodin offered to the problems of his day may seem in many respects anachronistic, the basic concerns of Bodin’s writings—the securing of peace, tolerance, and autonomy—remain relevant today. [tk/jc]

Foucault: Studienhandbuch [Foucault: Research Handbook]. Sverre Raffnsøe, Marius Gudmand-Høyer, and Morten Sørensen Thaning. München; Paderborn: Fink, 2011. 398 p. ill. 25 cm. (UTB; 8452: Philosophie). ISBN 978-3-7705- 4941-2 (Fink); ISBN 978-3-8252-8452-7 (UTB): EUR 29.90 [12-2]

By now Michel Foucault’s works are available more or less in their entirety, with the exception of his unpublished manuscripts, which he barred from publication by a provision of his will. So it is definitely an appropriate time to create a handbook that will assist scholars and interested readers in accessing his oeuvre. The present volume is a commendable example of such a handbook. In addition to this title, German readers can also turn to a number of other useful guides, such as the Foucault-Handbuch, (Stuttgart, 2008), Foucault in den Kulturwissenschaften (Heidelberg, 2007), and the Foucault-Lexikon (München, 2009).

Foucault: Studienhandbuch does a good job of covering Foucault’s work in all its heterogeneity, with proper attention to the several phases of interpretation and reception that Foucault has already undergone. The authors, three Danish philosophers, begin by introducing Foucault as he is best known, in his works and creative periods, moving then to the lesser-known aspects of his work and to a discussion of his essential themes. Attention is paid to earlier interpretations, with the goal of correcting these where appropriate. This handbook sees itself not just as a guide to the works, but also as a scholarly contribution to the literature on Foucault. To this end, it builds the authors’ previous publications about Foucault’s ideas on insanity, literature, medical pathology, and discourse analysis. It is good to see that two thematic complexes evident in Foucault’s late work are also addressed here, firstly his thoughts on “governmentality” and biopolitics; secondly, the problem of enlightenment in its broader sense as it connects to the problem of who has the right and duty to articulate unwelcome truths.

The volume was originally written in Danish and appears here in a very readable German translation; it is thus particularly regrettable that the German translator is nowhere named and credited. This handbook can be recommended as a compact and comprehensive reference and should find a place in all libraries with strong collections in philosophy and cultural studies. [tk/crc]

Nietzsche-Lexikon [Nietzsche Lexicon]. Ed. Christian Niemeyer. 2d rev. and expanded ed. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2011. 508 p. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-534-24028-9: EUR 79.90, EUR 49.90 (for members) [11-3]

This well-done lexicon now appears in remarkably short order in a second edition. Since the basic concept of the lexicon has not changed, the reader may be referred to the review of the earlier edition (see RREA 15/16:72).

The new edition has expanded to over 500 pages and contains 25 more entries than the original publiction. Two entries from the first edition have been eliminated (Honeffer, Ernst and Petersen, Peter). The reader may find it odd that there is an entry for Nietzsche, Friedrich (Wilhelm); it is unlikely that a reader who does not know who Nietzsche is will turn to a Nietzsche-Lexikon to find out.

The lexicon continues to provide solid information and serves as a stimulus to a more precise reading of Nietzsche, necessary and important not just for philosophical reasons. [tk/rc]

Next Section
Previous Section
Table of Contents

Comments, suggestions, or questions
Last update: November 2013 [RT]
© 2013 Casalini libri - VAT no. IT03106600483