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Criticism » Tony White’s Sinuous Traces (published 22/11/2014)

Missorts II is a parable about the underground republic of letters launched at a time when huge subterranean rivers of discontent and unrest roll. Anonymous marches, the international phenomenon of the Occupy movements, these are our brief eruptions but there is always the fear of state crackdown that means messages are coded, discrete and secret. Betrayals and misreadings hurt in this advanced state of suspicion. They happen at all levels.

Richard Marshall on Tony White‘s Missorts Volume II.

Interviews » The End Times » On The Romantic Absolute (published 21/11/2014)

Schlegel’s claim is that philosophy does not concern any one topic, nor does it amount to any one conception of truth or reality; rather, it is in a state of eternal conflict, such that it is only by grasping the various conflicts within philosophy––determining the ways they emerged, and were resolved or dissipated––that we can grasp what philosophy is about.Schlegel similarly argues that literature must be understood through its history. In his lectures on the history of European literature he maintains that “the new cannot be understood without the old,” because “literature can only be understood as a whole.” In other words, in order to understand the nature of literature one must grasp the history of literature.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Dalia Nassar.

Criticism » Nonfiction » Wittgenstein’s Radiator and Le Corbusier’s treacherous knot. (published 15/11/2014)

Airplanes in the first world war were all typically made out of wood. Wood, however, was exactly the treacherous-knot material that Le Corbusier feared. Metal, on the other hand, was thought less susceptible to error and so very soon after the first war planes were being made of metal. These early planes couldn’t actually fly but were deemed superior to the wooden ones that could because they represented error free reality. Metal collapsed the distinction between explanation and description. The price of this collapse, Hughes writes, ‘ … was flight itself.’ She asks the obvious question: ‘ If airplanes do not need to be able to fly, do explanations need to tell the truth?’

Richard Marshall on Francesca Hughes’s wondrous Architecture of Error.

Interviews » The End Times » Parts, wholes, abstracts, tropes and ontology (published 14/11/2014)

A book may be part of the library and a page part of the book, but the page is intuitively not part of the library. By contrast, if an amount of rice is part of a larger amount of rice, which in turn is part of a dish, the first amount of rice is still part of the dish. This is because amounts of rice are not integrated wholes, whereas books are.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Friederike Moltmann.

Interviews » The End Times » powers, Aristotle and the incarnation (published 08/11/2014)

Powers are properties that enable their bearer to bring about or suffer change. Each (type of) power is defined by the (type of) change it is ‘responsible’ for. The change is the manifestation of the nature of the power. Importantly, manifesting is one of the two different states a power may be in; the other is being inactive. Powers are real even if never manifesting. Even a changeless universe may be powerful.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Anna Marmodoro .

Interviews » The End Times » Plato aims at virtue (published 31/10/2014)

I certainly would not say that Plato hates poetry; rather, he is amazed by and concerned about its persuasive power. I think it is precisely this power he tries to acquire and control with his own beautiful and poetic writing. It would be a fair summary of Plato’s work to see it obsessed, from the very opening lines of the Apology, with the relationship between persuasion and truth. How and why is it that the truth so often fails to be persuasive? What has to occur to make the truth persuasive?

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Iakovos Vasiliou.

Criticism » Tara Morgana (published 26/10/2014)

As ever, Holman is asking that we recognize those deeper, magical roots of writing that modern poetic literature has always recognized – think of Yeats, mystical Eliot, Ted Hughes. He’s working to unfreeze a secular cultural cringe that blushes embarrassment at the supernatural, mystical, occult elements and can’t engage with that vast content… Holman is working to receive occult forces where ‘… each dreamed text is a terma in the mind, treasure best left to be forgotten and then discovered anew.’

Richard Marshall reviews Paul Holman’s Tara Morgana.

Interviews » The End Times » Leibniz: Strange monads, esoteric harmony and love (published 24/10/2014)

I think one of the things that makes people react to Leibniz in the way that Diderot did is the sheer breadth of his accomplishments. Setting aside his achievements in any particular field, Leibniz is clearly one of the greatest polymaths the world has ever seen. He is well-known as an important philosopher, mathematician, and natural philosopher and, to a lesser degree for his pioneering writings on jurisprudence, linguistics, and geology. But also his work extended to more practical endeavours, including inventions such as his early calculating machine, his designs for wind driven water pumps for use in mining, and a submarine. In one letter he even mentions an idea for shoes with springs underneath to facilitate quick escape from pursuers.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Paul Lodge.

Interviews » The End Times » Category Mistakes (published 17/10/2014)

I haven’t been able to find a natural language that doesn’t contain category mistakes (it’s hard to imagine how there could be such a language – but I’m not just relying on this intuition. I asked speakers of a wide range of languages and all of them confirmed there are sentences that are odd in precisely this sort of way in their languages). Moreover, even within a language, category mistakes can arise in the context of very diverse grammatical constructions.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ofra Magidor.

Criticism » About five o’clock on the sun (published 12/10/2014)

All truths are identical: Yablo says: ‘ mathematicians know a lot of truths; metaphysicians know a lot of others. These truths are identical if we go by truth-conditions , since they are true in the same cases: all of them.’ Truth conditions flatten out difference. They are insensitive. Hempels ‘All crows are black’ has the equivalent truth conditions of ‘All non-black things are non-crows.’ But it strikes us as wrong to say they have identical meanings. Aboutness nails the difference, suggests Yablo. ‘One is about crows, the other not.’ We should care about this aboutness feature because it is simply interesting, even if there was nothing else. But there is.

Richard Marshall reviews Stephen Yablo’s Aboutness.