Philosophy and Its Others

Ways of Being and Mind

By William Desmond

Subjects: Philosophy, Aesthetics
Series: SUNY series in Systematic Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791403082, 416 pages, July 1990
Hardcover : 9780791403075, 416 pages, July 1990

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents



Unity and Plurality: The Wittgensteinian and Hegelian Option
Unity and Plurality: The Metaxological View
Ways of Being and Mind
Structure of the Work

1. Philosophy and Its Others: On Ways of Being Philosophical

Philosophy's Felo de Se
Philosophy as Middle Mindfulness
Philosophy and the Scholar
Philosophy and the Scientist
Philosophy and the Poet
Philosophy and the Priest
Philosophy and the Revolutionary
Philosophy and the Hero
Philosophy and the Sage
Philosophy as Metaxological

2. Being Aesthetic

I. The Immediacy of the Aesthetic

Dualism, the Body and Being's Intimacy
Purposeless Preening and the Celebrating Body

II. Aesthetic Self-mediation

Beauty and the Adorning Self
Beauty and Dignity

III. Art and the Aesthetic Middle

Imagination as Metaxological
Being Imitative, Being Creative

IV. Loss of the Aesthetic Middle

Excessive Subjectivity: Creativity as Negativity
The Cult of Novelty

V. Art and Metaxological Otherness

Art and the Community of Others
Aesthetic Mindfulness: Art's Tolerance of Otherness

3. Being Religious

I. The Immediacy of the Sacred

The Double Image
Ancestor Worship and the Sacred King

II. The Mediation of the Religious Middle

The Open Dialectic of Trust and Distrust
The Double Piety: Sacred Terror and Gratitude

III. Metaxological Openness to Sacred Otherness

Naming and Not Naming: The Problem of Anthropomorphism
The Middle Way and Mystery

IV. Religious Inwardness and the Metaxological Mediation of Otherness

The Mystic and Religious Inwardness
The Prophet and Social Otherness

V. The Problematic Religious Middle

Miracles and Sects
Warring Religions
Sacramental Earth?

4. Being Ethical

I. The Immediacy of the Ethical Middle

The Dualism of Being and the Good: On Mind and Giants
Shame and the Other: On Feeding and Dining

II. The Self-mediation of the Ethical Middle

Free Desire: What is to be Done?
Practical Wisdom and the Intermediate
Work, Ethical Self-mediation and Dignity

III. Ethical Inwardness and the Middle

Persons and Intrinsic Value

IV. The Ethical Intermediation of Otherness

Ethical Will and Otherness: Two Loves
Ethical Civility and Otherness
On Justice and Power

V. Ethical Community and Recalcitrant Otherness

Malign(ed) Others: Criminals, Wolfmen
The Gyre of Energy

5. Being Mindful: Thought Thinking Its Other

I. First Meditation: Being Mindful and Logic

Logic, Mindfulness and Unruly Otherness
Logic, Being, and Mind
Logic, Otherness and Power

II. Second Meditation: Being Mindful and Solitude

Solitude and Inward Thisness
Negative Otherness and the Desert
Country and City Solitude

III. Third Meditation: Being Mindful and Failure

Philosophy and Failure
Radical Failure: Modern Success and Stoic Strategy
Art and Failure

6. Being Mindful: Thought Singing Its Other

I. Song of Golden Being

II. Sings of the Elemental

The Elemental and Otherness
Defiant Simplicity
Loss of the Elemental: Denatured Being

III. Songs of Death and Time

Sleep, Death, The Elemental
Age: Elemental Time as Fleshed
Reversed Time

IV. Song of Breakthrough

V. Song of Festive Being

VI. Songs of Idiot Wisdom

Folly and Mind's Other
The Reticence of Power
Idiot Wisdom





Philosophy and its Others responds to the widespread sense that philosophy must renew its intellectual community with other significant ways of being and mind. The author articulates philosophy's community of mind with the aesthetic, the religious, and the ethical, without losing any of its own distinctive voice. He develops an original and constructive position between these extremes: the Hegelian extreme which reduces the plurality of others to a dialectical totality and the Wittgensteinian and deconstructive options that celebrate plurality, but without a proper sense of the connectedness of philosophy and its others.

William Desmond is Chairman and Professor of Philosophy in the Philosophy Department at Loyola College. He is author of Art and the Absolute: A Study of Hegel's Aesthetics, published by SUNY Press, and Desire, Dialectic and Otherness.


"I am impressed by this book's originality, its power of thought and imagination, its wisdom, its perceptiveness about matters large and small, its judiciousness. Desmond's comments concerning various figures and schools in the history of philosophy and culture, including the fashionable post-modernists and deconstructionists like Derrida, are marked by profound understanding, penetration, and critical acumen. "— George L. Kline, Bryn Mawr College

"The author is tackling one of the most important problems of contemporary thought. Philosophy, as taken up and developed by a professional elite, is in danger of losing touch with the concrete dimensions of experience that should serve as its target and its ground. In Philosophy and Its Others, William Desmond opens himself to a richer understanding of being human by drawing the reader's attention to the irreducible complexity of the aesthetic, religious, and ethical ways of being that blend with and support the reflective awareness that is philosophy's special province. Desmond brings a full-bodied sense of the varied texture of experience to his work, and sustains a high level of philosophical energy throughout. " — Brian J. Martine, The University of Alabama in Huntsville

"What I like most about this manuscript are a) the fact that it addresses what are probably the two central themes of contemporary philosophical discussion, the nature of philosophy and the meaning of otherness, b) that it does so in such a creatively different way, and c) that it brings prodigious scholarship to bear on this issue, yet wears that scholarship so lightly that it plays but a supporting role. " — Merold Westphal, Fordham University