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

Leibniz: Strange monods, 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 as, 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.

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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.

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about aboutness published 10/10/2014

I don’t (or didn’t) treat number-talk as straightforwardly metaphorical. Sometimes when we launch a sentence into the world our confidence in the sentence outruns our sense of how it is best interpreted, in particular whether it is best assigned a literal reading or a metaphorical one. There’s an implicit FINESS operator: construe it literally if possible, Figuratively If NeceSSary. These things can take a while to sort themselves out. And sometimes they never are sorted out.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Stephen Yablo.

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medieval matters published 03/10/2014

All I know is that there was more work done in logic, and better work, in the 14th century than in any century other than the fourth century BCE (in which Aristotle is the only significant figure whose work has survived), and the 20th century. Several of my colleagues protest at my saying that, claiming 19th century logic as important—which it is, and the work of Boole, Frege, Schröder and perhaps others was essential for what came later, but it’s no better and much less in extent than what we find in the 14th, with Ockham, Burley, Buridan, Albert of Saxony, Heytesbury, Wyclif, and many, many more.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Stephen Read.

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The colour of our shame published 29/09/2014

So we have to ask ourselves: just what kind of ‘liberal democracy’ is marked by a strain of deep and disrespectful injustice that is contrary to the very idea of liberal democracy? My answer is: One that doesn’t merely marginalize but one that explicitly and implicitly rejects the humanity of black Americans. So it is more than not being part of American society. It is deeper. It is not being seen fully as the kind of thing that can vie for membership in American society – a human being. So here, the question of loneliness is not itself as central as the diminished value of black humanity.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Chris Lebron.

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Post-analytic phenomenology vs market serfdom published 26/09/2014

Much ‘Continental’ philosophy after Merleau-Ponty strikes me as little more than bad poetry dressed up as philosophy…. In terms of clarifying the centrality of art and the aesthetic the Analytic tradition is now more or less useless. It has recently tried to re-brand itself as ‘Anglo-American’ but is better described as White Aesthetics. Instead of regarding the Duchampian tradition of ready-mades as secondary and parasitic upon traditions of sensuously embodied art-making – as (in other words) something whose artistic status has to be justified, Analytic philosophers have now made this tradition, dogmatically, into the very focus of artistic meaning.

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

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Leibniz, Berkeley, Kant, Frege; bees, toasters and Julius Caesar published 19/09/2014

Within ten years he had produced a strikingly original, if slightly crazy, physics of his own. He then traveled to Paris and received a crash course in the cutting edge physics and mathematics of his day. Shortly afterwards, he began making really big contributions in math and physics, some of which I suspect still aren’t fully appreciated today. Among other things, he discovered the infinitesimal calculus, offered a devastating critique of Descartes’s laws of motion, and laid the foundations for important developments in the eighteenth century by the likes of Euler, Lagrange and Jacobi.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Jeffrey K. McDonough.

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philosophy of captivity published 12/09/2014

The magnitude of the harms done to animals is almost incomprehensible — 60 billion suffer before they are slaughtered for food in global industrial agricultural production annually and that contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector, which in turn is wreaking havoc on animal habitats on land and in the sea. When we also consider the additional threats that other animals face from human activities, it becomes clearer that the problems are structural and remedies cannot solely rely on individual tastes. But there are some really hard philosophical questions about what, if anything, individuals can do to help curtail these harms.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Lori Gruen.

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Towards a Secular Europe published 05/09/2014

I regard 1989 as more important than 9/11 in bringing back religion to the world order. Once the division of the world along allegedly secular values collapsed, the way to re-draw boundaries and decision fell back on religious identity as the strongest form of cultural difference, at least in the eyes of the ruling west. 9/11 was just the first global stage to assert the change of picture. It is true that starting from this 9/11, religious voices became more prominent at the global level: they quickly understood that the political stakes were high; it was not about controlling national politics, but about shaping the international order along religious lines.We know what happened: the still born constitution gave birth to a set of minor technocratic changes; religion as a political fuel is alive and well in the spirit of European people in particular when it comes to define Europeanness and otherness, which typically takes the form of Islam-as if we were back to the time of the Crusades.

Continung the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Lorenzo Zucca.

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from normativity to responsibility etc published 01/09/2014

We are united by our relations to a common history, a common heritage of cuisines, architecture, crafts, professional and leisure activities, arts and literature, and more which shape our imagination, providing us with the memory of smells and colours and patterns of response, and mutual expectations, which enable us to understand each other, and open avenues for individual development and creativity within the common bonds, individuality which makes itself understood to others, because its roots are in the common culture, and which can be freer and richer because of the richness from which it derives. Interpretations of cultural goods, of history and psychology, are crucial to these processes precisely because they combine preservation with change, plurality with relating to a common core, the common object of interpretation.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Joseph Raz.

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