Flourishing Thought

Democracy in an Age of Data Hoards

Flourishing Thought

Challenging the posthumanist canon that celebrates the preeminence of matter, Ruth Miller, in Flourishing Thought contends that what nonhuman systems contribute to democracy is thought. Drawing on recent feminist theories of nonhuman life and politics, Miller shows that reproduction and flourishing are not antithetical to contemplation and sensitivity. After demonstrating that processes of life and processes of thought are indistinguishable, Miller finds that four menacing accumulations of matter and information—global surveillance, stored embryos, human clones, and reproductive trash—are politically productive rather than threats to democratic politics. As a consequence, she questions the usefulness of individual rights such as privacy and dignity, contests the value of the rational metaphysics underlying human-centered political participation, and reevaluates the gender relations that derive from this type of participation. Ultimately, in place of these human-centered structures, Miller posits a more meditative mode of democratic engagement. Miller’s argument has shattering implications for the debates over the proper use and disposal of embryonic tissue, alarms about data gathering by the state and corporations, and other major ethical, social, and security issues.

Human Flourishing, Liberal Theory, and the Arts

A Liberalism of Flourishing

Human Flourishing, Liberal Theory, and the Arts

This book claims that in addition to autonomy, liberal tradition recognizes human flourishing as an ideal of the good life. There are two versions of the liberalism of flourishing: for one the good life consists in the ability of an individual to develop her intellectual and moral capabilities, and for the other the good life is one in which an individual succeeds in materializing her varied human capabilities. Both versions expect the state to create the background conditions for flourishing. Combining the history of ideas with analytical political philosophy, Menachem Mautner finds the roots of the liberalism of flourishing in the works of great philosophers, and argues that for individuals to reach flourishing they need to engage with art. Art provides us with wisdom, insight, critical social and political thinking, and moral education. Thus, a state which practices the liberalism of flourishing must play an active role in funding the creation and dissemination of art. Consequently, the liberalism of flourishing is better equipped than autonomy liberalism to compete with religion in the domains of meaning and over the shape of the regime, the political culture and the law in countries in which liberalism is contested. Political theorists and lawyers will enjoy engaging with this version of liberalism, as will students of social democracy and art policy.

The Biopolitics of Embryos and Alphabets

A Reproductive History of the Nonhuman

The Biopolitics of Embryos and Alphabets

Biopolitics and posthumanism have been pass� theories in the academy for a while now, standing on the unfashionable side of the fault line between biology and liberal thought. These days, if people invoke them, they do so a bit apologetically. But, as Ruth Miller argues, we should not be so quick to relegate these terms to the scholarly dustbin. This is because they can help to explain an increasingly important (and contested) influence in modern democratic politics-that of nostalgia. Nostalgia is another somewhat embarrassing concept for the academy. It is that wistful sense of longing for an imaginary and unitary past that leads to an impossible future. And, moreover for this book, it is ordinarily considered "bad" for democracy. But, again, Miller says, not so fast. As she argues in this book, nostalgia is the mode of engagement with the world that allows thought and life to coexist, productively, within democratic politics. Miller demonstrates her theory by looking at nostalgia as a nonhuman mode of "thought" embedded in biopolitical reproduction. To put this another way, she looks at mass democracy as a classically nonhuman affair and nostalgic, nonhuman reproduction as the political activity that makes this democracy happen. To illustrate, Miller draws on the politics surrounding embryos and the modernization of the Turkish alphabet. Situating this argument in feminist theories of biopolitics, this unusual and erudite book demonstrates that nostalgia is not as detrimental to democratic engagement as scholars have claimed.

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Here is a selection of poems charting a year in the life of a University student in England - both his feelings and thoughts, of love, hate, humanity and drugs, in a contemporary style unlike any other.

Mencius and Aquinas

Theories of Virtue and Conceptions of Courage

Mencius and Aquinas

“This is a path-breaking work, of the first importance for moral philosophy as well as for the comparative study of religion and morality. Detailed studies of particular conceptions of particular virtues are rare enough; but no one has hitherto contributed a comparative study of this kind. The detailed comparison of Mencius and Aquinas on courage throws new light on both authors and on the variety of dimensions involved in notions of courage. This choice of courage as the virtue to be compared turns out to have been unpredictably fruitful. Both Mencius and Aquinas are exhibited as at once analytical and creative in their treatments. Moreover the place of the treatment of courage within larger systematic frameworks and the importance of these frameworks is made clear. This is an indispensably useful book.” — Alasdair MacIntyre “Yearley’s book shows how the comparison of two great thinkers from different traditions and ages can both elucidate our understanding of each in a new way and also offer a critical perspective on the contribution to the contemporary dialogue. I also greatly appreciated the richness of his notes, which provide a virtual reader’s guide to major scholarship on an array of issues.” — Michael C. Kalton “The comparative study of religious ethics is much in need of the book Yearley has written, a work which investigates in depth two thinkers from different traditions. The focus on virtue is a welcome corrective to the emphasis on obligations and rules which has dominated previous investigations. The notion of virtue leads directly to a theory of the self which in my judgment is one of the key ways to get at the heart of systems of religious and moral belief. Yearley has also read deeply in contemporary philosophy so that he is able to bring contemporary sophistication to premodern thought. His book is a model of how to do comparative studies; he has the intelligence, the sensitivity, and the judgment to pull it off. I don’t know of another book of this quality in comparative ethics.” — John P. Reeder, Jr.

On Education

On Education

What is education for? Should it produce workers or educate future citizens? Is there a place for faith schools - and should patriotism be taught? In this compelling and controversial book, Harry Brighouse takes on all these urgent questions and more. He argues that children share four fundamental interests: the ability to make their own judgements about what values to adopt; acquiring the skills that will enable them to become economically self-sufficient as adults; being exposed to a range of activities and experiences that will enable them to flourish in their personal lives; and developing a sense of justice. He criticises sharply those who place the interests of the economy before those of children, and assesses the arguments for and against the controversial issues of faith schools and the teaching of patriotism. Clearly argued but provocative, On Education draws on recent examples from Britain and North America as well as famous thinkers on education such as Aristotle and John Locke. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the present state of education and its future.

Reinventing Philosophy of Religion

An Opinionated Introduction

Reinventing Philosophy of Religion

Considerations about the existence and nature of God are given far too much weight in contemporary discussions of philosophy of religion. Against prevailing orthodoxy, this introduction to philosophy of religion urges a broader perspective that attends seriously to a wide range of religious and non-religious worldviews.

Positive Health: Flourishing Lives, Well-Being in Doctors

Positive Health: Flourishing Lives, Well-Being in Doctors

Medical doctors take so much time taking care of their patients that they often neglect their own bodies and minds. Marsha W. Snyder, M.D., seeks to change that in this guidebook to living a life filled with positivity, satisfaction, and proper exercise. She pays particular attention to the root of the problem: the demands that are placed on future medical professionals in the first year of medical school. With this book, you’ll learn how to: • balance the demands of the workplace, home, and your body; • develop resilience so you can engage in proper self-care and avoid burnout, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other negative outcomes. • cultivate more positive emotions inside and outside the workplace; • engage in positive fitness, movement, and breathing techniques to boost overall health. Increasing positive health in doctors and health care personnel will improve employee and patient satisfaction, decrease the cost of care, reduce employee sick days, and lessen employee turnover. Whether you’re a medical student, medical educator, administrator or an active practitioner, you’ll live a longer and happier life by following the advice in Positive Health: Flourishing Lives, Well-Being in Doctors.

Movies and the Meaning of Life

Philosophers Take on Hollywood

Movies and the Meaning of Life

"The meaning of life is the most urgent of questions," said the existentiallist thinker Albert Camus. And no less a philosopher than Woody Allen has wondered:"How is it possible to find meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size?" "Movies and the Meaning of Life" looks at popular and cult movies, examining their assumptions and insights on meaning-of-life questions: What is reality and how can I know it? (The Truman Show, Contact, Waking Life); How do I find myself and my true identity? (Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, Boys Don't Cry, Memento); How do I find meaning from my interactions with others? (Pulp Fiction, Shadowlands, Chasing Amy); What is the chief purpose in life? (American Beauty, Life is Beautiful, The Shawshank Redemption); and How ought I live my life? (Pleasantville, Spiderman, Minority Report, Groundhog Day).