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Lacan and french post-rationalism published 20/06/2014

I don’t think there’s a single ‘political stance’ of post-rationalism. Here, I would want to compare the thinkers I wrote about it in that book to the literary figures associated with modernism. The latter, as a movement, was as often associated with fascism as it was with the Left. That’s not true empirically for post-rationalism – most of the later figures I write about in the book were or became revolutionary socialists of various stripes, although Lacan was no Marxist – but I don’t think there’s anything inevitable about the Leftism of this style of thought.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Tom Eyers.

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schelling, adorno and all that jazz published 13/06/2014

Basically, you’re not going to be responding adequately to protesters in Tahrir square if you argue that freedom is an illusion, because materialists have shown determinism is universal. The metaphysical debate can in these terms itself contribute to unfreedom by reducing the scope of what needs to be investigated. As Adorno points out, freedom of the will only becomes an issue at all at a particular historical juncture, when the idea of a natural order of things disintegrates with the rise of bourgeois individualism. In this kind of perspective it may be more important to ask why the debate so often focuses on the metaphysical question of freedom of the will, when that is not the decisive issue.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Andrew Bowie.

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deep control, death and co published 06/06/2014

“What is the value of acting from one’s own, reasons-responsive mechanism”? I suggest that this value is the same as the value we place on artistic self-expression. In acting freely, we are (in a sense) writing a sentence in the narrative of our lives. Our free will transforms us into authors of the stories of our lives, and endows us with an irreducible “narrative” dimension of value.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews John Martin Fischer.

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Multiverses and sleeping beauty published 30/05/2014

The Everettian multiverse is one of the most beautiful ideas in the history of science. If it’s wrong, at least it’s gloriously, elegantly, ambitiously wrong. My approach to Everettian quantum mechanics (EQM) builds directly upon that of the ‘Oxford Everettians’ – David Deutsch, Simon Saunders, David Wallace, and Hilary Greaves. Wallace’s presentation of the view has become canonical, and any seriously interested readers should start by ignoring me and reading his lovely book The Emergent Multiverse.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alastair Wilson.

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on theism and explanation published 23/05/2014

While the arguments put forward by many Christian philosophers are serious arguments, there is something less than serious about the spirit in which they are being offered. There is a direction in which those arguments will not be permitted to go. Arguments that support the faith will be seriously entertained; those that apparently undermine the faith must be countered, at any cost. Philosophy, to use the traditional phrase, is merely a “handmaid” of theology. There is, to my mind, something frivolous about a philosophy of this sort.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Greg Dawes.

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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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