:: Interviews archive ( click for A-Z index)

Philosophical Frontiers of Ancient Science published 06/03/2015


It’s worth adding that the work of hiving off the soul from the body is never complete. Galen, for example, wrote a treatise in the second century CE in which he argues that all the faculties of the soul, including intellectual capacities, are dependent on the mixtures of the body. The debates we see now about whether mental illness should be treated entirely physiologically or through, say talk therapy is in this sense very old. Once the physical body comes on the scene, there’s pressure to carve out a space of the human that cannot be simply reduced to corporeal dynamics. Yet at the same time, protecting that space from what happens to the body is never easy, even for someone like Plato (who offers, for example, a pretty “medical” explanation of pathological sexual desire in the Timaeus.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Brooke Holmes.

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Amor vincit omnia published 02/03/2015

Deborah Delano II

Deborah Delano is many things. She describes herself on the back of her first book, The Things You Do, as growing up a working class lesbian, during a time when that was not necessarily an easy thing to be. She is now a teacher, a writer, a married woman, and a wholly fascinating human being, as this autobiography shows.

Pádraig Ó Méalóid interviews Deborah Delano.

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self-consciousness, aesthetics, music published 28/02/2015


I am an anti-metaphysician, that is, I think that metaphysical debate requires therapeutic treatment. It’s not quite that, as you put it yourself, Wittgenstein holds that things like selves are just reifications of language; I’d be happier to say that one should talk of persons rather than selves, as these seem to be third- as much as first-personal entities. (Actually I wouldn’t be as hostile to metaphysics as Wittgenstein was; it’s interesting that he wrote little about space and time, where metaphysics seems inevitable.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Andy Hamilton.

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Heidegger, politics, phenomenology, religion published 20/02/2015


The full philosophical sense of kairos is found in Christianity which understands an event in the world (the birth, death and resurrection of Jeusus of Nazareth) as a transformative moment. Heidegger in his account of originary and derivative time, in particular in the way in which he understands the moment of vision (Augenblick) in this context, draws implicitly on this distinction of chronos and kairos and in so doing brings together St. Paul, Augustine Luther and Kierkegaard, on the one hand, and Aristotle and Kant on the other.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Felix Ó Murchadha.

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History from the Early Modern Philosophers published 15/02/2015


When a Descartes or a Leibniz did philosophy, they didn’t limit themselves to what modern philosophers thought about, issues in epistemology or metaphysics or ethics or politics. The entire world—including what we think of as the scientific world—was part of their domain. Unlike modern philosophers, they didn’t have to take what experts in the sciences give them and work within its parameters: they could and did dabble in all branches of systematic knowledge. This is an important difference from philosophers today.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Daniel Garber.

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Unruly Words published 07/02/2015


The fundamental idea is that vagueness consists in a word’s possession of multiple equally permissible or competent ways of being applied, for example multiple equally permissible stopping places in a sorites series. I take the multiple competent ways of using a vague term to reflect multiple ranges of application in its semantics.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Diana Raffman.

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the stuff of proof published 31/01/2015


There’s the ‘law of large numbers’: in a population of 250 million, a ‘million to one chance’ happens 250 times; with the huge range of well-studied pure mathematical structures, it’s not surprising that some of them find application. As I listened to Diaconis’s lecture, I realized that each one of the errors that lead us so naturally to think there’s a coincidence demanding explanation (e.g., this person must be reading my mind!), could also lead us to think that the applicability of mathematics is an amazing coincidence.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Penelope Maddy.

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Fichte and Rousseau published 24/01/2015

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

Even the concept of equality may be regarded as less clear-cut if one really presses the question of why we should regard all human beings as essentially equal in a moral sense. Kantians might respond by saying that all human beings are equal in virtue of their rational nature, for example. Yet this invites the question as to why we should accord rationality itself such an absolute value. I am therefore sympathetic to the worry that the German Idealist agenda ultimately rests on quasi-theological assumptions.

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

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On what there is for things to be published 21/12/2014

The grounding principle seems to have quite substantive ontological implications. Take the true claim that there once were dinosaurs. What object could be such that its existence grounds the truth of that claim? Perhaps any of the formerly alive dinosaurs. But you might have thought there aren’t any such things – after all, isn’t that what we mean by saying that dinosaurs are extinct? That there don’t exist any dinosaurs? So the grounding principle pushes you toward accepting past objects in your ontology: your dead great-great-grandparents, Caesar and Cleopatra, the dinosaurs and what not, all exist, all as real as you and me – only they’re somewhat different from you and me in that they’re past.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Stephan Kraemer.

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The Underground Island published

One premise, not rigorously applied, was that you should be able to live somewhere in Britain without money. So with a few exceptions we offered free accommodation, ad lib, to who-ever made it to the island. No references, no deposit. In the early days, no council tax. No notice to quit, no eviction, however extreme the acting-out. It was how the Welfare State was supposed to work. Incidentally, as Machiavelli reminds us, this was also how ancient Rome was founded, by attracting fugitives and outlaws from the modern.

Richard Marshall interviews Roc Sandford.

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