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Buzzwords » Top Reads of 2016: Richard Marshall (published 23/12/2016)

12 of what I’ve read this year: The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796-1880. Frederick Beiser. Beiser is an essential read and this is a great and readable book about an important sub-field of continental philosophy. It includes, for the Beckett fans amongst us, a chapter on Windelband, one of whose books Beckett read and from which […]

Interviews » Restless Hauntings: Richard Marshall Interviews Marina Warner (published 06/04/2009)

mw2By the time photography got into its stride it was accepted pretty much as a documentary index of reality. This was why it became very popular in spirit circles because it proved that spirits existed. Well now of course we know so much more about this very peculiar state of being which has been called ‘image flesh’ – a term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty that I like very much. It’s an expression I like because it implies flesh that is not flesh. He applied it to other forms of iconography, which are also image flesh. They might be more material than a photograph – a sculpture, a painting – but they share the relationship to the mind’s eye that photography does.

Richard Marshall talks Catholicism, zombies and Beckton Alps with Marina Warner.

Interviews » The End Times » Turing tests, Chinese Rooms, Sherlock Holmes, Wittgensteinian Vagueness and Descartes (published 22/01/2017)

Brain research can make no contribution to traditional philosophical questions. These are conceptual, not empirical, and therefore no empirical discovery can shed light on the issues they involve.
But even more specific, non-conceptual questions that can be asked by neuroscientists sometimes involve problematic conceptual assumptions which might undermine them. I think the search for a brain correlate of voluntary action is one such case.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Hanoch Ben-Yam.

Reviews » Scotland Yardie (published 20/01/2017)

These are caricatures by dint of their very likeness, tautologies of themselves, buckled to the fast dialogue and tic tac caustic critique, working a humour pitched towards a knowing affection for its sources and illustrious originals whilst simultaneously pointing pointingly to their defects. Knowing the detectives and their shows you’re ready for the shoe-horned well-known premises, the outsider cop and his sidekick buddy and all that jazz where a fast and hilariously layered plot makes its contrivance answer all purposes and understand each swift visual interruption and eruption that the ‘Scotland Yardie’ graphic novel represents.

Richard Marshall reviews Bobby Joseph and Joseph Samuels’ Scotland Yardie graphic novel.

Interviews » The End Times » Darwinian Creativity, Memetics and Some (published 14/01/2017)

Memetics reduces again either to something trivial – no big news that there are cultural items that spread, right – or to something false: that they make copies of themselves and that they spread because of their properties. The last point, an explanatory analogy, is often taken to also imply that memes spread independently of the beliefs and interests of human beings, which is also wrong.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Maria Kronfeldner.

Interviews » The End Times » Kant, other minds and intersecting issues… (published 07/01/2017)

An Epicurean is someone who thinks that when people are dead, they no longer exist. Our suggestion is that people are implicit Epicureans. How should an implicit Epicurean answer the questions in the study? Consider first the vignette in which David is dead. You’re asked whether you agree or disagree with statements such as ‘David has emotions and feelings’. This statement presupposes that David exists. And it’s very natural to think that when a statement has a presupposition that you take to be false, neither agreement or disagreement seems appropriate. (Compare being asked whether you agree or disagree with the statement ‘I’ve stopped cheating on my partner’.)

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Anil Gomes.

Essays » Lumpenproletariat. Writing Attack/Antisystem/Subliterature (published 03/01/2017)

These are properly “deconstructive texts” in the sense that they burlesque rather than conventionally critique: they occupy the very language of disenfranchisement that is otherwise employed to demonstrate that they do not really exist. There is nothing of a Foucauldian paradigm here: this is not some pretence to an authentic voice of the excluded, a critique of the history of reason from the POV of the madwoman in the attic. The truly subversive character of the sublit project is that it is first and foremost a “locus” of détourning action – a radical poetics – a tropism. While the theorisers of the recuperated avantgarde toil to contain and expropriate the thing they imagine subliterature to be, their grasp necessarily comes up empty: there’s nothing to grasp, in any case, but a hologram of their own transgressed image, which they are more than adept at attending to.

Louis Armand on the Sublit Project.

Reviews » Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned (published 31/12/2016)

In Willy’s ‘ Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned’ we find ‘there are no good fairies: the bad fairies killed them off long ago. ’ Bad magic also illustrates the crisis of masculinity of the time: in Arenes’ ‘The Ogresses’ we have a painter who falls in love with and is a victim of the Ogresses’ seven daughters. As mentioned above Bluebeard becomes a victim of scheming wives. A century before Margaret Atwood, AS Byatt, Angela Carter decadent fairy tales upended sexual stereotypes. Mendes’s Beauty refuses the prince’s kiss, preferring to dream on. Wily’s Daphnis and Chloe don’t marry, they just have sex: ‘ People have filled your head with ridiculously optimistic notions and persuaded you to believe in good fairies… All that, my children, is a farce, and you must believe the exact opposite of such nonsense.’

Richard Marshall reviews Fairy Tales for the Disillusioned.

Interviews » The End Times » Kuhn’s Science and Does Medicine Really Care About Patients? (published 23/12/2016)

Who is the physician? The answer to this question has changed dramatically through the centuries. For the Greek and Roman traditions, for example, the nature of the physician shifted from priest to philosopher. Today another shift has occurred, from philosopher to scientist—especially technician. The human factor has been eliminated or greatly marginalized, and so professionalism is often reduced to technical competence. Little if any human competence, if you will, is required of a medical professional today, and this can result in patient harm and compromise the morality of modern medicine. Unfortunately, modern medicine too often resembles an industrial factory in which patients are placed on a conveyer belt, and then anatomized, tested, and treated.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews James Marcum.

Interviews » The End Times » Ethics, Law and Politics (published 17/12/2016)

I see loyalty – roughly perseverance in relational commitments despite the cost of such perseverance – as an important human value/virtue. Think of it as a kind of relational glue. It is odd that a value/virtue that plays such a central role in dramatic literature has played such a small role in philosophical writing. There are probably a number of reasons, but I think that a predilection for a certain kind of individualism is a major one. Others might include the fashionability of consequentialism, the idea that loyalty has more to do with sentiment than reason, as well as its proneness to corruption. The revival of interest in virtue/character as distinct from rules/principles has also created space for a renewed, if hesitant, interest in loyalty.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews John Kleinig.