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Early Mod philosophy published 17/05/2014

There is a classic article, “Seven thinkers and how they grew: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz; Locke, Berkeley, Hume; Kant,” by Bruce Kuklick which tells the historically contingent story of how this list became canonical in America. That is not to say that anyone on the list is unworthy of their status—all of those philosophers are important thinkers who wrote deep, systematic works. But so did Malebranche and Hobbes, and both were exceedingly influential, arguably more so than Berkeley or even Spinoza. So one reason to broaden out is so as not to miss some really good philosophy.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Lisa Downing.

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Heidegger, Art, Architecture published 16/05/2014

Like Nietzsche before him, Heidegger refused to accept the finality of the separation of art from the sacred that is demanded by the aesthetic approach. This does not claim that art does not work any more. Quite the opposite: it works very well, offering us welcome entertainment, relief from the burdens of life, perhaps even momentary Ersatz for the lost sacred. Aesthetic theorizing has recognized this. And art can still serve some already established morality, ideology, or religion. But this is not to say that art is still a privileged way of revealing to us who we are and where we should be going. The shape of the modern world denies art its former ethical function.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Karsten Harries.

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Apologia pro vita sua: my work in philosophy published 10/05/2014

My view was that the musical emotions of the garden-variety kind, sadness, joy, et alia, were in the music as perceived qualities of it, not dispositional qualities of the music to arouse such emotions in us. And I had an elaborate explanation for how this was the case. I now think, and have so thought for a long time, that my explanation was sheer nonsense. I still believe the emotions are “in” the music; but I haven’t a clue as to how they got there.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Peter Kivy .

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an east coast straussian on political philosophy published 09/05/2014

When Cicero said that Socrates was the first who called philosophy down from the heavens and establish it in the cities, he meant that Socrates was the first philosopher to turn to the study of the human things, of the good and bad, the right and wrong, the just and the unjust. It is this sense of the priority of the political, that is to say, of the philosopher’s relation to the city or the political environment in which he/she lives that is the central problem. This is not just a historical or sociological problem. The relation of the philosopher to the city helps us think about one of the oldest and deepest problems of philosophy, namely, the relation of theory and practice.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Steven B. Smith.

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the universe as we find it published 02/05/2014

Until the 17th century objects were thought to do what they did because they were as they were. This is the Aristotelian picture. God creates the objects and endows them with powers. God can intervene in the course of nature in either of two ways: by miraculously modifying the powers possessed by objects, or by directly manipulating them. With Descartes this picture alters dramatically. The source of motion is not to be found in material objects, but in mental substances, finite or infinite.

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

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davidson and derrida published 25/04/2014

Derrida, being also a Heideggerian and French, places Husserlian noemata in a tradition that goes back to Plato—the distinction between logos and rhemata, between the genuine meaning (logos) of a word and other features of a word. Derrida questions this distinction. If we are skeptical about this distinction, then the critique of a discourse can focus on rhetorical features as well as what are considered ‘logical” features of the discourse. I have argued that Quine should agree. Since there are no meanings, the language cannot be divided into the truth-conditional (logical) and “other.” Quine did not pursue this line of thought. Derrida does, and his discussions of Plato illustrate what it would be like to really take there to be no clear “logical” core to a text.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Sam Wheeler III.

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absolute generality published 18/04/2014

I thought it was absolutely obvious that one could make claims about absolutely everything, and started working on the topic because I thought it was ludicrous that anyone could think otherwise.

Now I believe that my younger self was blinded by a metaphysical prejudice.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Agustín Rayo.

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philosophy of biology published 11/04/2014

Philosophy is, roughly speaking, its own field, though it has a special status because it’s so integrative – because the aim of philosophy is to get a coherent and defensible picture of everything going on. I very much like the one-line description of philosophy given by Sellars: philosophy is about “how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.” If we take this view on board, it implies that philosophy will always be interacting with the sciences and drawing on them, but it won’t be swallowed up by them.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Peter Godfrey-Smith.

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the existentialist of hard choices published 04/04/2014

Maybe Sophie, in choosing between which of Jan and Eva to save from the Nazi gas chambers, was forced to do something that was not guided by reasons. When she chose to save Jan, she was not acting within the scope of her rational agency because practical reason had broken down – she had to existentially plump rather than rationally choose. Hard choices of the second variety allow responses within the scope of rational agency — you remain a rational agent as you agonize over what to do just as you remain a mathematician as you painstakingly work out the next line of the proof. In these substantively hard cases, it makes sense to
continue to deliberate, agonize, ask your mother for advice, and so on. When we choose in such cases, we are exercising our rational agency, not simply plumping like Sartrean existential agents.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Ruth Chang.

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kripke’s unfinished business published 28/03/2014

Is there really an analytic tradition in philosophy?. Of course there is an analytic tradition in philosophy, but analytic philosophy is not a philosophical school. There is no set of philosophical doctrines that all, or even the great majority of analytic philosophers adhere to, and there is no restricted set of common goals or interests. There is also considerable overlap between continental philosophers like Brentano, Husserl, Gadamer, Levinas, and Habermas, on the one hand, and various collections of analytic philosophers on the other. But that doesn’t mean that the divide is merely sociological. The analytic and continental traditions are paths of historical influence that have led to family resemblances among their members, even though some members of each tradition resemble some members of the other more strongly than they resemble various members of their own tradition.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Scott Soames.

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