The wealth of archival materials in the Miller Papers is a great resource for future scholarly projects. It is also likely to yield more collections of Miller’s own writings and lectures for publication. Scholars who are interested in undertaking new projects should also consult the page on essays prizes and fellowships (under the pull-down menu for the Miller Fund) where information on funding is available.
Actual Finitude: The Midworld of John William Miller
by Peter S. Fosl
Peter S. Fosl is researching a book that assesses the relationship between Miller’s thought and skepticism. Fosl’s guiding hypothesis is that Miller’s thought about the midworld not only sprang from dynamics similar to those motivating skepticism but also remains in meaningful ways still kin to skepticism proper, despite Miller’s protests to the contrary. Central to the power of Miller’s midworld is its anti-nihilistic acknowledgment of human finitude and its embrace of criticism, attributes it shares with skepticism even as it stakes out a conceptual terrain different from it.
Stewardship as an Aim of the Liberal Arts: On John William Miller’s Continuing Significance
by Jeff Frank
Jeff Frank is researching a book that looks at what it might mean to assert stewardship as a goal of a liberal education. Stewardship activates a student’s sense of agency as it also teaches a student non-dogmatic piety for visible value in the world. Miller’s lived defense of the liberal arts stands in contrast to progressive approaches to education, where the ends of an education are tied to the possibilities of endless growth even at the cost of stripping the world of value, and it also stands in contrast to approaches to education—for example, strictly naturalistic or nihilistic—intent on convincing students that agency is an illusion. In the end, I will argue that Miller’s vision of non-dogmatic stewardship holds out hope for reviving the philosophy and practice of liberal education in our time.
Emotions and the Moral Life
by Gary Steiner
Gary Steiner is working on a book that explores the respective roles and mutual interplay of reason and emotion in the moral life. The philosophical tradition has exhibited an overwhelming tendency to attribute centrality to reason in the moral life and to relegate emotion to a subordinate status, with the consequence that the significance of emotion in moral commitment has not been given its due; moreover, the tradition has tended to attribute to reason the status of a timeless faculty that transcends the influence of time and place, thereby providing an unrealistic picture of the way reason actually functions and develops. Miller’s work on the notions of criticism and local control offer needed correctives to this misunderstanding of reason; it remains to be seen whether and to what extent Miller’s occasional remarks about emotion make a contribution to the kind of rethinking of the relationship between reason and emotion that Steiner is developing.
The Reinvention of Idealism in American Philosophy: John William Miller and the Idealist Case for History, Technology, and Objectified Agency
by Katie Terezakis
Katie Terezakis is developing a book that surveys Miller’s historical reconstruction of idealism, as well as his distinctive reconsideration of traditionally existentialist themes. In this book Terezakis explores Miller’s related approach to authority and authoritarianism. She makes the case that Miller’s reformulation of idealism and existentialism revitalizes the role of justification even while avoiding a common but false dichotomy between scientific authority and humanism. Ultimately, she argues, historical idealism is both a shrewd critical project that helpfully magnifies key concerns of twentieth century American philosophy, and it is an ongoing engagement with the conditions of democratic pluralism.