« The People did not rush to defend Congress | Main | On Covid Convalescing »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Eric Schliesser

Hi Joel,
Thank you for your provocative guest-post.
I agree with you that Nagel's relationship to Cohen merits careful, critical scrutiny without romanticism. And this sheds light on the sociological and conceptual formation of American analytic philosophy and a certain rejection, if not, effacement about what came before. But two quick thoughts: (i) Nagel's 1957 retrospect is accompanied by a much longer, and fascinating essay by Leonora Cohen Rosenfield in the same issue: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2707567. She was one of Cohen's daughters but also an accomplished scholar in her own right. I warmly recommend her *From Beast-Machine to Man-Machine, Animal Soul in French Letters from Descartes to La Mettrie*, published in 1941. She also published a biography of her father in 1962. And did important work on reviving interest in Condorcet.
So, a natural division of labor presents itself: Nagel, who is then quite famous academic, is what we would call the click-bait and Cohen Rosenfield provides the concrete substance about Cohen’s thought or achievements and that might motivate one to read his work. (Her essay is fascinating.)
(ii) I agree there are real differences between Cohen and Nagel (who rejects, I think, the principle of polarity). But I think you miss that Nagel does represent Cohen as a kind of pluralist note the "interpretations" in the quote you provide. Anyway thank you for getting us to think about their relationship.

Joel Katzav

Hi Eric,

Even if Nagel’s 1957 piece was click-bait, his misrepresentation, lack of charity about Cohen’s contributions to the philosophy of science and limited citations of Cohen would need to be explained. In addition, Nagel fails to draw attention to Cohen’s achievements in the philosophy of science in 1980, when it is the centenary of Cohen’s birth. Thelma Z. Lavine agrees. While her introduction to the work produced for the centenary (‘The Morris Cohen Centenary – Introduction’ https://www.jstor.org/stable/40319909) does emphasise Cohen’s speculative philosophy of science, she notes that Nagel’s contribution to the centenary, as well as the other contribution, by Edel, suggest that it is the legal component of Cohen’s work that is significant.

I don’t think that acknowledging, and reflecting on, the different interpretations of experience comes close to any kind of pluralism about philosophy.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


Blog powered by Typepad