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Edgeland: Marshland published 20/03/2014

Language and writing often tries to appropriate places and make them understandable. Take the Romantics as an example. Before the Romantics, hills, the Lake District and the countryside were just a wilderness, it was ugly, no one wanted to go there because there were bandits and wolves there. Why would you want to leave the triumph of the Enlightenment in the cities? But the Romantics came along and said, ‘That’s quite pretty’. So for a while language became about describing this exciting new place. Then it got into the Gothic and it became clichéd and all the rest of it, to the point where you couldn’t write about it anymore.

Kit Caless records Simon Spanton in conversation with Gareth E Rees.

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sex, culture and justice published 14/03/2014

I think liberals see these matters as mere imperfections of the real world, without recognising that the continuing oppression of women demonstrates a profound inability of traditional liberal analysis to theorise or rectify injustice. Feminists have been much more successful at this, in part because feminists understand that how women fare in the world is intimately connected to how women and men are portrayed, represented and constructed in that world.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Clare Chambers.

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Mary’s Room and stuff published 07/03/2014

I think laptops and quarks are both real. My difference with Carnap and Huw Price is that I am a Quinean in the sense that I am unable to make sense of different scales or levels of reality, of the whole way of thinking that lies behind the Carnapian project as Price conceives of it. On the Quinean way of thinking, the difference between the existence of quarks and of laptops lies in the difference between quarks and laptops, not between the sense in which they exist.

Continung the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Frank Jackson.

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epistemic consciousness published 28/02/2014

The whole question of whether materialism is part of the scientific world-view is much harder than it appears. For one thing, there are many different things people have in mind by ‘materialism’, whether legitimately or not. We might have in mind the materialism of the ancient Greeks. That is definitely not part of our world-view. Or we might have in mind the materialism of Smart and Lewis. But I doubt that is part of our world-view either, mainly because it is incredibly optimistic.

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

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on william james and john la farge published 21/02/2014

Self-styled “grammar snobs” want so much to get back to that point in the past where the majority of people respected language and understood its nuances, and society at large shared a common understanding of grammar rules. But that place is a mirage. There was no time when everyone spoke flawless English and people punctuated “properly.” It’s important to come to grips with this historical fact, because it influences what we do in the present: hanging on to the old story about grammar– the mythical story– limits our relationship with language.So what might originate as love of language ends up, if it’s focused inappropriately on grammar rules, seeming really quite hateful and limiting.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Cecelia Watson.

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mental lives and Fodor’s LOT published 14/02/2014

Descartes is a philosophical staple, but I love using science fiction because many students are passionate about it, and it leads them to carefully work through the details of even the most dense philosophical works. And nowadays students have an intuitive understanding of technology that lends itself to thinking philosophically about films like The Matrix and I, Robot.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Susan Schneider.

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being for published 08/02/2014

We speak a language and there seem to be facts about what its words mean. So we might initially aspire, before learning too much logic, to be able to say what those facts are – and to be able to say them in the language that we are speaking. But there are deep and general paradoxes about attempts to state the extensions for all of the predicates in a language – including those for words like ‘true’ and ‘satisfies’ that we use to state an extensional or extension-determining semantics.

Continuing the End Times series Richard Marshall interviews Mark Andrew Schroeder.

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Fighting Incompleteness published 31/01/2014

Mann was profoundly influenced by two philosophers, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, who returned to the most ancient of all philosophical questions – “How to live?” – and whose writings offered novel perspectives for considering that question (much more perspective-offering than rigorous argument!) In working towards ways of reading Mann, so that his own advances in suggesting new perspectives will become more vivid, I do some fairly standard philosophical analysis of ideas in Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. In elaborating how “philosophy by showing” works, and in defending the idea that literature and music can contribute to philosophical “showing”, I am also doing something more standardly philosophical. But I view most of the book as an interweaving of philosophy and literary criticism. If that entails a broadening of a standard idea of philosophy, it’s a broadening I’d like to see happen.

Philip Kitcher interviewed by David Auerbach.

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metaphors and minds published

Once when Bjork was speaking to a chorus, she said “Make it dolcissimo, like marzipan.” I think she was driven to metaphor here because there was a very specific property she wanted their voices to have – a particular combination of richness, sweetness, and bitterness – that we don’t have a word for in our language (English or Icelandic). She couldn’t demonstrate the sound directly herself, because she’s not a whole chorus. But once they hit on the sound she wanted, she could say “Yes, like that. Let’s call that the marzipan tone.” And from then on, ‘the marzipan tone’ would literally refer, by stipulation, to the sound she could only metaphorically gesture at before.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Elisabeth Camp.

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on the tragedy of life published 25/01/2014

Lyotard says we should reject all meta-narratives that try to create a centre of meaning; rather we should become ironists and employ multiple narratives, giving none any real authority. This is in fact the very nihilism that Nietzsche predicted would follow from a thorough appreciation of the Death of God. What strong individuals, the type that Nietzsche really cares about, do in the face of the collapse of all received, externally sanctioned, meta-narratives (be they that of religion, utilitarianism, Marxism, etc) is create their own meta-narrative; they impose their own values, recognizing that this is an existential act of self creation.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ken Gemes.

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