Category Archives: Philosophy

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Online versions of our printed catalogues are available to browse. Please follow the links below to your subject(s) of interest.

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Don’t forget, ALL orders on our website receive 10% discount.

Between apes and angels, animals and Ashgate: authors to attend animal studies conference at University of Edinburgh

Posted by Ally Berthiaume, Editorial Assistant

Animal Studies is a trending topic in academe with an increased production of literature across the disciplines. Ashgate is positioned within this rising canon, having contributed at least twenty titles to this growing body of animal-studies scholarship. Among these is Ashgate’s newly published collection, Animals and Early Modern Identity, edited by Pia F. Cuneo.Animals and early modern identity

Animals and Early Modern Identity spans the globe, including works from scholars in the United States, Europe and Africa. Apart from the range of the contributors’ geographical locations, there is also great diversity among the animal species appearing within these essays – from horses, dogs, and pigs to rhinoceroses, sea monsters, and other creatures. As Cuneo succinctly puts it in her introduction:

The wide array of disciplines, geographies, and species represented in the volume speaks to the vigor of intellectual inquiry into the subject of animal and nonhuman animal interaction in the early modern period (1400–1700).

Holding it all together, she asserts, is the issue of identity. This collection investigates what kinds of identities were developed by the interaction between human and animal; how these were expressed, for what reason, and with who were they shared. Each essay centers on the ways in which humans use animals to say something about themselves.

The expansion of ‘animal studies’ as a field, and the extent of the range of inquiry contained within it, is evidenced not only by the number and variety of academic publications, but also by a proliferation of conference panels – and sometimes whole conferences –  dedicated to the theme.  The past year or so has seen a number of these, crossing multiple disciplines and time periods, culminating this week with:  Animals and Critical Heritage and Between Apes & Angels: Human and Animal in the Early Modern World.

The latter conference features several contributing authors to Animals and Early Modern Identity as speakers, thus underlining the timeliness and significance of the volume.

Pia F. Cuneo is Professor of Art History at the University of Arizona, USA.  Her current work focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century hippology, and she competes locally in dressage.

To see other Animal Studies titles click here.

Ashgate celebrates Kierkegaard’s 200th birthday with a special offer on volumes in the ‘Kierkegaard Research’ series

Posted by Sarah Stilwell, Senior Marketing Executive

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Kierkegaard’s birth Ashgate is offering all titles in the Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources series at 20% discount until the end of 2013.

The Kierkegaard Research Series is edited by Jon Stewart of the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre Foundation, and is a multi volume series dedicated to a systematic coverage of all aspects of Kierkegaard Studies.

Interdisciplinary in nature, the series combines articles on philosophy, theology, literature, psychology and history written by the leading international Kierkegaard scholars arranged into thematically organised volumes. Each volume contains a detailed introduction, written by the editors, which traces the history of the given theme in Kierkegaard studies and an extensive index making it easy to find where the specific themes, works and persons are treated.

The series is divided into three main parts: ‘Kierkegaard’s Sources’ includes articles which perform source-work research in order to discover and document the numerous sources of Kierkegaard’s thought; ‘Kierkegaard’s Reception’ includes articles treating the countless aspects of the reception of Kierkegaard’s thought and writings in the different research traditions; the third section is for reference works including an extensive bibliography of works on Kierkegaard and a volume containing a list of the books Kierkegaard owned as they appear in the auction catalogue of his library.

To date Ashgate has published over 30 titles in this series, which is the most important, significant and comprehensive publishing treatment in English of the work and impact of Søren Kierkegaard.

The success of the Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources series was emphasised recently in the Søren Kierkegaard Newsletter

‘The editing is of the highest academic standards. The bibliographies are also an important contribution to Kierkegaard research in their own right. It is a very helpful feature that they include page references to the works in Kierkegaard’s own library that discuss the writer at hand. For instance, if you want to know what other views on Shakespeare Kierkegaard would have known about through his own book collection, you can find the references here. The bibliographies also include excellent references to secondary literature. The general editor Jon Stewart together with his co-editors must be thanked for orchestrating such a vast undertaking. Their work is nothing less than a largesse to the future of Kierkegaard scholarship.’

Kierkegaard's influence on literature, criticism and artIn 2013 Ashgate publishes five new titles in Volume 12 of the series which focus on the theme of Kierkegaard’s Influence on Literature, Criticism and Art.

For more information on this series please visit our website where you can also find details of our special offer.

Jean-François Lyotard – his later work

Posted by Claire Jarvis, Senior Commissioning Editor

Given the widespread and ongoing attention paid to the writings of Deleuze, Derrida and Foucault, it is perhaps unusual that the writings of Jean-François Lyotard have been comparatively overlooked,  given the relevance of much of his work to the topics the body, affect, the subject, and the impact of postmodernity on the human condition.

His later works (produced from 1990 until his death his 1998) have much to offer contemporary philosophical debate. In them, Lyotard addresses a number of themes that both return to and move beyond those of his earlier work, including art and aesthetics, affect, ethics and politics, modernity and, the subject.

Rereading LyotardHeidi Bickis and Rob Shields have skilfully edited Rereading Jean-François Lyotard, the first book in English to focus on Lyotard’s later writings. By bringing together established scholars and new academics, they demonstrate a wide engagement with Lyotard’s thought. This pathbreaking volume also include a contribution from Dolorès Lyotard -a ‘‘Presentation’ to ‘À l’écrit bâté’- and a copy of one of Lyotard’s manuscript pages.

We are delighted to announce that Rereading Jean-François Lyotard has been designated A Yankee Book Peddler US Core Title for 2013. Visit our website to read extracts from the text and to order the book with a 10% online discount.

Protagoras and the Challenge of Relativism: Plato’s Subtlest Enemy

Protagoras was an important Greek thinker of the fifth century BC, the most famous of the so called Sophists, though most of what we know of him and his thought comes to us mainly through the dialogues of his strenuous opponent Plato. In his book Protagoras and the Challenge of Relativism: Plato’s Subtlest Enemy, Ugo Zilioli offers a sustained and philosophically sophisticated examination of what is, in philosophical terms, the most interesting feature of Protagoras’ thought for modern readers: his role as the first Western thinker to argue for relativism.

 ‘To defend relativism is about as thankless a task as philosophy ever confronted: informed readers typically take it to be a complete waste of time and even a mark of professional incompetence. But then, if you see its genuinely deep challenge, its defense counts as an exceptional kind of courage and amplitude of mind that very little else in philosophy ever equals. Zilioli embodies a candor and honesty and a scholar’s thoroughness and scruple that are simply a pleasure to trust in the unraveling of the full import of Plato’s treatment of Protagoras’s argument in the Theaetetus and Protagoras. I think it’s the straightforward clarity and passion of Zilioli’s effort that makes it so memorable. Beyond that, it seems to me to have simply outflanked Protagoras’s strongest detractors.’   Joseph Margolis, Temple University, USA

Here is an extract from Ugo Zilioli’s introduction to the book (you can read the full introduction online):

“This book aims primarily to reconstruct the philosophy of the sophist Protagoras through a reading of some dialogues of Plato, more precisely of some sections of the Theaetetus and Protagoras. It is a book that intends to define, understand and assess critically the philosophical positions that Plato attributes to Protagoras in his (Plato’s) dialogues in the light of the philosophical dichotomy between relativism and objectivism. The reasons for writing such a book are two. One reason is relevant for the history of ancient thought. To use F.M. Cornford’s term, Protagoras was Plato’s ‘archenemy’: I believe that the sophist and his relativism were for Plato (and his objectivism) the ‘subtlest’ enemy (at least as far as some central epistemological and ethical issues were concerned and, to some extent, educational and methodological issues too). The second reason has to do with current philosophical debates. The dispute between Protagoras and Plato initiated, I claim, the contrast between relativism and objectivism in philosophy. Such a contrast, which has thus characterized Western philosophy from its very birth, has pervaded a great part of Anglo-American philosophy in the last forty years, especially in the USA, and has become one of the most fundamental issues of debate in philosophical speculation.

This study has also a secondary aim, no less interesting, at least for someone curious about the figure of the historical Protagoras, though this is much harder to identify. In reconstructing the philosophy of Protagoras in the context, mostly, of Plato’s Theaetetus and Protagoras, I shall try to comprehend whether there is some historical plausibility in Plato’s picture of Protagoras. I shall explain better what I mean by ‘historical plausibility’. The attempt to find a historical plausibility in Plato’s reconstruction of Protagoras’ doctrines is in a way hopeless, given the tiny proportion of Protagoras’ writings still available. Diogenes Laertius tells us that Protagoras wrote twelve books or treatises, whose titles are the following: The Art of Controversy, On Wrestling, On Mathematics, On the State, On Ambition, On Virtues, On the Original State of Things, On What is in Hades, On The Misdeeds of Men, Instruction Book, Law-suit about a Fee, Opposing Arguments (in two books). He wrote even more than Diogenes reports, and his unlisted writings were the most influential: the two famous treatises On the Gods (whose opening sentence about the impossibility of knowing the existence of the gods seems to have caused Protagoras to be exiled and his books burnt) and Truth or The Overthrowers, which began with Protagoras’ maxim that Man is the Measure, do not appear in Diogenes’ list. Further and important omissions are Protagoras’ On Being, a work in which he seems to have proposed some arguments for refuting Parmenides’ doctrine that Being is one, and his Great Speech, of which we now know nothing (the same title is used, in modern scholarship, for the first section of Plato’s Protagoras, namely Prt. 320c–328d). But, of this great amount of written material, only a very limited number of short fragments is available to us.

It is obviously difficult to form a coherent and accurate picture of Protagoras’ doctrine or to say anything plausible about the historical Protagoras by relying on these few available testimonies. So, I will not claim that I am able to do that. What I think can be done is to explain some arguments that Plato attributes to Protagoras in his dialogues (or, more importantly, some other arguments that can be attributed to Protagoras on the basis of what Plato himself says, mainly in the Theaetetus) in the light of Protagoras’ extant fragments. This will help to make the general approach that I will use in the course of the book more comprehensible for the reader. In the attempt to reconstruct Protagoras’ philosophy in the context of Plato’s dialogues, close analysis of the arguments that Plato’s Socrates ascribes to Protagoras will be attempted and a careful scrutiny of such arguments will be provided. But, since Protagoras is, on my account, Plato’s philosophical enemy, and since Plato opposes Protagoras’ philosophical ideas, from the positions that he attributes to Protagoras in his dialogues he tends to draw some philosophical consequences that need not be drawn. Plato wants to show Protagoras’ positions untenable because, on Plato’s account, they eventually lead to absurdities or falsities. But, on the basis of what Plato himself says, one might identify philosophical consequences, alternative to those drawn by Plato, and less straightforwardly untenable. Let us call such alternatives (to Plato’s) arguments ‘anti-Platonic’, in so far as they provide philosophical positions that Plato would never have held. So, as far as Protagoras’ doctrines are concerned, in my analysis of the Theaetetus and Protagoras, genuinely Platonic arguments will alternate with other philosophical arguments, quite independent of Plato’s own arguments; as well as a reconstruction of some Platonic arguments, this book will provide a critique of such arguments.

What I want to ask is whether the defence that a modern reader might present of Protagoras’ positions might also have been the kind of defence that the historical Protagoras could have offered. In order to answer this question, I will make comparisons between the arguments that I will provide to defend Protagoras from Plato’s attacks on the one hand, and, on the other, Protagoras’ extant fragments, with the hope of finding some points of contact between the former and the latter. In attempting to do so, I will make some limited recourse to some sources other than Plato, for instance Sextus Empiricus or Aristotle, to corroborate the plausibility of such consonance.

This is what I have in mind when I speak of the historical plausibility of the picture of Protagoras’ doctrine within the framework of Plato’s dialogues. As can be seen, it is a very weak sense of historical plausibility, but it is nonetheless one that has its own merits and will hopefully become clearer once I introduce the third and last scholarly aim of this study. If reconstructing Protagoras’ doctrines in Plato’s dialogues is the more important target of this book, and providing a kind of weak historical plausibility for such a reconstruction is a less important, and derivative, objective, the third target that I aim to reach by writing this book is the following important one. What I aim to understand is the extent to which Protagoras’ doctrines, as depicted in Plato’s Theaetetus and Protagoras, can be seen as a form of philosophical relativism. To quote Matthen’s eloquent expression, I wish to ‘treat Protagoreanism sub specie aeternitatis’. Some scholars regard Protagoras as the first relativist in the history of western thought, but it is not at all clear what this means. What kind of relativist was Protagoras? After all, what is relativism? Protagoras is usually taken as holding a form of perceptual relativism that quite naively leads to a rather weak, and self-refuting, form of cognitive relativism. This claim usually originates from references to Plato’s Theaetetus, in particular to the self-refutation section that has attracted so much attention. But Plato’s treatment of Protagoras’ alleged relativistic positions in the Theaetetus is much more detailed than that, indeed much more wide-ranging and, I suggest, much more respectful. The form of relativism that Plato ascribes to Protagoras in the Theaetetus is, I claim, complex and it involves both a form of perceptual relativism (of a very sophisticated kind, with subtle ontological consequences) and of ethical relativism. The comprehension of Protagoras’ doctrines will become even clearer if one reads the Theaetetus in conjunction with the Protagoras. But this, to my knowledge, has never been fully attempted. My claim is that, if Protagoras is a relativist, he is one of a more serious kind than generally thought of.”

More information about Protagoras and the Challenge of Relativism: Plato’s Subtlest Enemy

Beyond Foucault awarded ‘research-essential’ classification

We are very pleased to learn that Beyond Foucault: New Perspectives on Bentham’s Panopticon has been awarded ‘research-essential’ status by Baker & Taylor YBP Library Services.

In the introduction to Beyond Foucault Anne Brunon-Ernst includes a quote from Foucault:

Bentham is more important for the understanding of our society than Kant and Hegel

She continues:

Here, in one beguiling phrase, one finds the many contradictions which cluster around Jeremy Bentham’s legacy in Michel Foucault’s work. Foucault’s statement goes to the very heart of the subject-matter of this volume of essays: what did Foucault understand of Bentham’s philosophy, and to what extent was he influenced by Bentham’s utilitarianism?

You can read the full introduction here.

In his hugely influential book Discipline and Punish, Foucault used the example of Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon prison as a means of representing the transition from the early modern monarchy to the late modern capitalist state. In the former, power is visibly exerted, for instance by the destruction of the body of the criminal, while in the latter power becomes invisible and focuses on the mind of the subject, in order to identify, marginalize, and ‘treat’ those who are regarded as incapable of participating in, or unwilling to submit to, the disciplines of production.

The Panopticon links the worlds of Bentham and Foucault scholars yet they are often at cross-purposes; with Bentham scholars lamenting the ways in which Foucault is perceived to have misunderstood panopticon, and Foucauldians apparently unaware of the complexities of Bentham’s thought. This book combines an appreciation of Bentham’s broader project with an engagement of Foucault’s insights on economic government to go beyond the received reading of panopticism as a dark disciplinary technology of power.

The contributors to this volume offer new ways of understanding the Panopticon projects through a wide variety of topics including Bentham’s plural Panopticons and their elaboration of schemes of ‘panoptic Utopia’, the ‘inverted Panopticon’, ‘panoptic governance’, ‘political panopticism’ and ‘legal panopticism’.

French studies on the Panopticon are groundbreaking and this book brings this research to an English-speaking audience for the first time. It is essential reading, not only for those studying Bentham and Foucault, but also those with an interest in intellectual history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and those studying contemporary surveillance and society.

Contents:  Foreword, Clare O’Farrell; Introduction, Anne Brunon-Ernst; Part I Historiography Reconsidered: from Discipline to Governmentality: Deconstructing Panopticism into the plural Panopticons, Anne Brunon-Ernst; From Discipline and Punish to The Birth of Biopolitics, Christian Laval. Part II Status of the Panopticon in Prison, Penal and Constitutional Reform: From ‘utopia’ to ‘programme’: building a Panopticon in Geneva, Emmanuelle de Champs; Penal theory without the Panopticon, Jean-Pierre Cléro; From the penitentiary to the political Panoptic paradigm, Guillaume Tusseau. Part III Is There a Panoptic Society? Social Control in Bentham and Foucault: Transparency and politics: the reversed Panopticon as a response to abuse of power, Marie-Laure Leroy; Social control and the legal Panoptic paradigm, Malik Bozzo-Rey; Epilogue: the Panopticon as a contemporary icon?, Anne Brunon-Ernst and Guillaume Tusseau; Bibliography; Index.

About the Editor: Anne Brunon-Ernst is Senior Lecturer in Legal English at the University of Paris 2 (Panthéon-Assas) and a member of the Centre Bentham, Paris.

New books – Modern History, Religion, Philosophy

Modern History

Beyond Foucault: New Perspectives on Bentham’s Panopticon    Edited by Anne Brunon-Ernst, University of Paris 2 and Centre Bentham, France

The Eclipse of ‘Elegant Economy’: The Impact of the Second World War on Attitudes to Personal Finance in Britain    Martin Cohen, Queen Mary University of London, UK

National Regeneration in Vichy France: Ideas and Policies, 1930–1944    Debbie Lackerstein, University of New South Wales, Canberra, Australia


Emotion, Identity and Death: Mortality Across Disciplines    Edited by Douglas Davies, Durham University, UK; Chang-Won Park, Durham University, UK and Sogang University, South Korea

The Last Judgment: Christian Ethics in a Legal Culture    Andrew Skotnicki, Manhattan College, USA

African Traditions in the Study of Religion in Africa: Emerging Trends, Indigenous Spirituality and the Interface with other World Religions    Edited by Afe Adogame, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom; Ezra Chitando, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe and Bolaji Bateye, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

New in paperback Faith, Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination    Malcolm Guite, Girton College, Cambridge, UK


Volume 11, Tome III: Kierkegaard’s Influence on Philosophy – Anglophone Philosophy    Edited by Jon Stewart, University of Copenhagen, Denmark