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Hegel, Irigaray, Motherhood & Feminist Philosophy published 22/03/2015


I’m not convinced that we can decide to minimise the salience of reproduction and all the ramifications that it has. It seems to me that reproduction is going to have to be made sense of in some way in any society, and that there are certain limits on the ways that we can make sense of it. However, I don’t think that from this necessity of sexual difference it follows that men and women have to occupy different social roles or that those roles must be hierarchical. By and large, women can carry, bear, and breast-feed babies and men can’t, but it doesn’t follow that women rather than men have to be the principal child-carers in every family.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alison Stone.

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The Legacies of Idealism published 14/03/2015


Schelling himself was a phenomenon. From an early age, he had learned that whenever he walked into a room, he was almost always the smartest and the most charming person there. That served him both well and badly. He entered the seminary at 15 and was Fichte’s successor in Jena at 23. As is well known, he, Hegel and Hölderlin roomed together for three years in Tübingen (the greatest college roommate lineup in history) and it’s a bit of an exaggeration but not over the top to say that together they hatched their plans for idealism while they were roommates.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Terry Pinkard.

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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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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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