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Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Nonfiction » Béla Tarr’s Turin Horse (published 07/06/2014)

‘In Turin on 3rd January, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Alberto. Not far from him, the driver of a hansom cab is having trouble with a stubborn horse. Despite all his urging, the horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver loses his patience and takes his whip to it. Nietzsche comes up to the throng and puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse’s neck, sobbing. His landlord takes him home, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan until he mutters the obligatory last words, and lives for another ten years, silent and demented, cared for by his mother and sisters. We do not know what happened to the horse.’

Richard Marshall on Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Criticism » Knausgaard: norse dwarf, norse god (published 25/05/2014)

He conjures up an immense solipsistic myth of fears and furies, monsters and agonies, a perpetual fury against a realisation that death is his fate and that his life, each viciously wounded and maimed moment of it, from childhood to the present, is precariously hovering at the brink of a terrifying emptiness, a meaningless hole into which everything is falling. In a state of panic he rages against this and chases a world through improvised language written down at speed that runs out towards the primitive vivacity of his own subjectivity. It is against erasure that he casts his spells and as he does so he becomes both terrifically powerful and knowledgeable and at the same time small and ugly and strange. Who wouldn’t want to read this?

Richard Marshall on Knausgaard’s My Struggle.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Interviews » The End Times » 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 .