Commonplace Commitments

Commonplace Commitments
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Thinking through the Legacy of Joseph P. Fell
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Peter S. Fosl
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This volume explores the many dimensions of the work of Joseph P. Fell. Drawing from continental sources such as Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre as well as North American thinkers such as John William Miller, Fell has secured a place as an enduring and important thinker within the tradition of phenomenological thought. Fell’s critical development of these strands of philosophy has resulted in a provocative and original challenge to complacent dualism and persistent problems of skepticism, alienation, and nihilism.
Joseph P. Fell proposes that the solution to the problem of nihilism is found in the common experience of persons and the everyday commitments that one makes to people, practices, and institutions. In his landmark 1979 book Heidegger and Sartre, and in his subsequent essays, Fell describes a quiet but radical reform in the philosophical tradition that speaks to perennial dilemmas of thought and pressing issues for action.

Since Descartes, at least, we have been puzzled as to what we can know, how we should act, and what we should value. The skeptical influence of modern dualism—distilled in the mind-body problem at arose with the assertion “I think, therefore I am”—has shot through not just philosophy and psychology, but also society, politics, and culture. With dualism arose radical subjectivism and the concomitant problems of nihilism and alienation. The broad aim of phenomenology is to repair the rupture of self and world. Announced by Edmund Husserl and developed by Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, and John William Miller, who drew from the North American tradition, this is the project to which Fell has devoted more than a half century of reflection and technical elaboration.

In this volume, an array of scholars consider, criticize, and cultivate Fell’s key contributions to the phenomenological project. Ranging from analyses of key texts in Fell’s phenomenology to probing examinations of his crucial philosophical presuppositions to the prospects for Fell’s call to find the solution to nihilism in everyday experience—these essays gather the work of the authors thinking with and through Fell’s key works on Sartre, Heidegger, and Miller. Also included are seminal statements from Fell on his pedagogical practice and his conception of philosophy.

by Peter S. Fosl, Michael J. McGandy, and Mark D. Moorman

Introduction: Joseph P. Fell and the Traditions of Phenomenological Existentialism in America

by Michael J. McGandy

Part 1. Orientations

  1. What is Philosophy?

by Joseph P. Fell

  1. Joseph Fell as Teacher

by Mark D. Moorman

  1. Style in Teaching Philosophy

by Peter S. Fosl

  1. The Eclipse and Rebirth of American Philosophical Pluralism

by Armen T. Marsoobian

Part 2. The European Tradition

  1. An Aristotelian Argument against the Inquiring of the Nicomachean Ethics

by Jeffrey S. Turner

  1. Why Heidegger?

by David Weinberger

  1. Placing Common Life: Fell and Skepticism

by Peter S. Fosl

  1. “Honoring one’s commitments….”

by Dennis Schmidt

Part 3. Joining the American Tradition

  1. From Place to Midworld: A Key Development in the Philosophy of Joseph P. Fell

by Mark D. Moorman

  1. The Reclamation of History: Does Miller’s Philosophical Project Preclude a “Radical Will?”

by Vincent M. Colapietro

  1. Ordinary Studies: Conceptual Brackets—Textual Moments

by Richard Fleming

Part 4. Prospects

  1. Re-Orienting Thinking: Philosophy in the Midst of the World

by Jeffery Malpas

  1. Heideggerian Pathways through Existential Crisis: A “Hermeneutics of Facticity”

by Scott D. Churchill

  1. The Humanity of the Severely Handicapped within Sartre’s Ethics

by Kenneth L. Anderson

  1. The Integrity of Finitude: Existential Reckoning in the Work of John William Miller

by Katie Terezakis

  1. Descartes, Nihilism, and Jonas's "Third Road"

by Gary Steiner

Coda: More I Cannot Wish You

by Joseph P. Fell

A Bibliography of Joseph Fell’s Work




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