Hegel, MacIntyre, and the (Living) Death of Moral Relativism

A recent piece in the Atlantic by Jonathan Merritt declares the “death of moral relativism.” It echoes observations made by other pundits that there seems to have been a shift in cultural attitudes concerning morality. In the United States, subjectivist, relativist, and “postmodernist” stances are said to have been replaced by robust commitments to social justice, tolerance, and inclusion. David Brooks also, for example, discusses the rise of a veritable “shame culture,” particularly evident on American college campuses and social media, ready to condemn and ostracize those who fail to acknowledge the importance of upholding these new, powerful norms of respect and recognition for the marginalized and oppressed. Indeed, the trend is so omnipresent that there has been significant backlash—critics decry the policing efforts of “social justice warriors” and the scourge of “political correctness.”

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After Hume: James and Husserl on Identity

As an occasional feature on TELOSscope, we highlight a past Telos article whose critical insights continue to illuminate our thinking and challenge our assumptions. Today, Christian Kronsted looks at Lowell A. Dunlap’s “Hume, James, and Husserl on the Self,” from Telos 2 (Fall 1968).

With the publication of A Treatise Of Human Nature, David Hume turned the philosophical community of his time upside down with his provocative skepticism and denial of a cohesive self. Since its initial publication, Hume’s claim that the self is nothing but a bundle of perceptions has plagued philosophers and psychologists alike, and has inspired many to completely abandon the idea of a coherent self. Yet a central question remains largely unanswered: if there is not a self, what is doing the thinking, and how is it done? If a person does not have a “self,” how come human beings think of themselves as unique and separate entities that have subjective experiences? Lowell A. Dunlap’s article “Hume, James, and Husserl on the Self” investigates how William James and Edmund Husserl tackled the notion of personal identity in the aftermath of Hume’s philosophy.

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