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Interviews » The End Times » the stuff of proof (published 31/01/2015)

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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.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Reviews » Infinite Fictions (published 23/01/2015)

Dungeness

These are the only serious questions for readers and writers now. Winters’ sense of yearning running through all his essays here is an immense inquietude. He’s nailed the portable solitude of reading, its source in the noise of the universe’s silence.

Richard Marshall reviews David WintersInfinite Fictions.

Reviews » The Age Of The Crisis Of Man (published 18/01/2015)

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There are TV sets in every room and the grim politics of this techno-human relationship is quickly established. Greif makes clear that Yoyodyne aerospace and Republicanism grow up side by side. What Pynchon starts to articulate is a creepy, X-Filey sense that technology is draining us away.

Richard Marshall reviews Mark Greif‘s The Age of the Crisis of Man.

Reviews » The Curious Legacies of the Brothers Grimm (published 22/12/2014)

There’s a sense of improvised sketching in them, as if the torso of some earlier attempt is being hinted at, some failed draft to get further. But that is just an illusion. The tales refuse the fixture of print, its authorities and policemen and prefer the threads and cobwebs of speech that become theophanies of an unwritten and ever-long tragedy fit for laughter and sacrifice. These are tales from the undercurrents of shamanic crazies, the terrifying anonymous oddness of women from the family tree of Sycorax.

Richard Marshall on Jack Zipes on the Brothers Grimm.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The Underground Island (published )

One premise, not rigorously applied, was that you should be able to live somewhere in Britain without money. So with a few exceptions we offered free accommodation, ad lib, to who-ever made it to the island. No references, no deposit. In the early days, no council tax. No notice to quit, no eviction, however extreme the acting-out. It was how the Welfare State was supposed to work. Incidentally, as Machiavelli reminds us, this was also how ancient Rome was founded, by attracting fugitives and outlaws from the modern.

Richard Marshall interviews Roc Sandford.

Reviews » Grave Desire (published 06/12/2014)

Simone de Beauvoir in Force of Circumstance of 1963 writes of a night with Sartre, Bost, and Giacometti at the Golfe Restaurant where the sculpturer of Godot’s tree told the story of Sergeant Bertrand the nineteenth-century necrophiliac. The rest of the evening was spent addressing the issue of how one judges obscene unprecedented crimes. Finbow’s great book is an open invitation to join that essential conversation. Why essential? The world has become an inventory of such obscene unprecedented crimes. What Finbow makes us wonder is why we’ve stopped the conversation. This astonishing silence is our putrid wound.

Richard Marshall reviews Steve Finbow‘s Grave Desire: A Cultural History of Necophilia.

Interviews » The End Times » the metaphysics of logic (published 05/12/2014)

One important thing that non-classical logics have done that classical logic has not (although, who knows, it may have, had Frege lived longer) is, after stepping carefully in problematic domains, to revise or rebuild completely in the light of suspicious results: classical paradoxes or limitations in areas like quantum physics, the foundations of mathematics, and plain old everyday reasoning in inconsistent or even just possibly inconsistent situations – have all inspired non-classical logics, and as a result we now have logics offering more nuanced and accurate models of deduction across at least some contexts and at most, more contexts than those classical logic can handle.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Penny Rush.

Reviews » 9 lives of class war (published 29/11/2014)

There are moments in hell when Dante’s wrath is provoked but kept under control. Similarly with Ray, his anger is controlled and just. In Hell God is Wrath and Vengeance and Dante learns to understand that in this context they are attributes of Divine Justice. Home is clear that the context of Ray’s life is a Hellish place and so his secularized version of anger and revenge amongst the cruel and exploitative toffs is to be understood as similarly just.

Richard Marshall reviews Stewart Home‘s The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones.