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Interviews » The End Times » sex, culture and justice (published 14/03/2014)

I think liberals see these matters as mere imperfections of the real world, without recognising that the continuing oppression of women demonstrates a profound inability of traditional liberal analysis to theorise or rectify injustice. Feminists have been much more successful at this, in part because feminists understand that how women fare in the world is intimately connected to how women and men are portrayed, represented and constructed in that world.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Clare Chambers.

Criticism » Borges’s funes the memorious (published 09/03/2014)

In 1887 John Langdon Down lectured on what he called ‘idiot savants’ . The film ‘Rain Man’ features a character with this syndrome. The film is based on Kim Peek who is said to have the most astonishing memory on earth. It was estimated that he knew the content of 12,000 books. He could read different pages of a book with different eyes. He read eight pages in 53 seconds and recalled 98% of what he’d read. He couldn’t filter. He had limited capacity to reason. Any problem not based on memory stumped him or proved difficult. He only read factual books. Multiple interpretation and ambiguity was avoided. He processed information literally. He ended talks around the world saying, ‘We are all different. You don’t have to be handicapped to be different. Treat other people like you would like to be treated and the world will be a better place.’

Richard Marshall reads Quiroga on Borges and Memory.

Interviews » The End Times » Mary’s Room and stuff (published 07/03/2014)

I think laptops and quarks are both real. My difference with Carnap and Huw Price is that I am a Quinean in the sense that I am unable to make sense of different scales or levels of reality, of the whole way of thinking that lies behind the Carnapian project as Price conceives of it. On the Quinean way of thinking, the difference between the existence of quarks and of laptops lies in the difference between quarks and laptops, not between the sense in which they exist.

Continung the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Frank Jackson.

Nonfiction » The Prophetic Silence of Bolaño’s ‘2666’ (published 02/03/2014)

A proper understanding of existence is that we are not its purpose. Bolaño writes to that impressive fact. His esotericism is a matter of asserting this anti-providentialism. It results in a change of consciousness. Yet as an author there is a lingering requirement to order and structure that rejects happenstance. Bolaño’s writing knows that there is a creative imagination ordering and processing. But the new consciousness it springs out of is one that withdraws from saying what purpose it has, or if there is any.

Richard Marshall on Bolaño’s ‘2666’.

Interviews » The End Times » epistemic consciousness (published 28/02/2014)

The whole question of whether materialism is part of the scientific world-view is much harder than it appears. For one thing, there are many different things people have in mind by ‘materialism’, whether legitimately or not. We might have in mind the materialism of the ancient Greeks. That is definitely not part of our world-view. Or we might have in mind the materialism of Smart and Lewis. But I doubt that is part of our world-view either, mainly because it is incredibly optimistic.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Daniel Stoljar.

Criticism » why fight poverty etc (published 23/02/2014)

We need a much better understanding of how we support each other, and how money – and other support – is passed around and within families before we can think about reducing poverty. We need to understand the very different experiences of poverty, and how gender, disability and ill health all influence someone’s chances of becoming poor. We need to know more about the role of culture, attitude and behaviour in shaping people’s experience of poverty.

Richard Marshall reviews the new Perspectives series.

Interviews » The End Times » on william james and john la farge (published 21/02/2014)

Self-styled “grammar snobs” want so much to get back to that point in the past where the majority of people respected language and understood its nuances, and society at large shared a common understanding of grammar rules. But that place is a mirage. There was no time when everyone spoke flawless English and people punctuated “properly.” It’s important to come to grips with this historical fact, because it influences what we do in the present: hanging on to the old story about grammar– the mythical story– limits our relationship with language.So what might originate as love of language ends up, if it’s focused inappropriately on grammar rules, seeming really quite hateful and limiting.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Cecelia Watson.

Interviews » The End Times » mental lives and Fodor’s LOT (published 14/02/2014)

Descartes is a philosophical staple, but I love using science fiction because many students are passionate about it, and it leads them to carefully work through the details of even the most dense philosophical works. And nowadays students have an intuitive understanding of technology that lends itself to thinking philosophically about films like The Matrix and I, Robot.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Susan Schneider.

Criticism » The Utter Silence of the Andalusian Refugee (published 09/02/2014)

The feeling that everything was broken and ruined, that desolation and exile were the true realities, was rooted in his own experiences in Andalusia, and his subsequent life as an exile and refugee. He referred to himself as ‘The Spaniard’ or ‘The Andalusian.’ He wrote to a Yemenite sage: ‘ I am one of the humblest scholars of Spain whose prestige is low in exile. I am always dedicated to my duties, but have not attained the learning of my forbearers, for evil days and hard times have overtaken us and we have not lived in tranquility; we have laboured without finding rest. How can the Law become lucid to a fugitive from city to city, from country to country? Have everywhere pursued the reapers and gathered ears of grain, both the solid and the full, as well as the shriveled and thin. Only recently have I found a home.’

Richard Marshall reviews Moshe Halbertal’s Maimonides.

Interviews » The End Times » being for (published 08/02/2014)

We speak a language and there seem to be facts about what its words mean. So we might initially aspire, before learning too much logic, to be able to say what those facts are – and to be able to say them in the language that we are speaking. But there are deep and general paradoxes about attempts to state the extensions for all of the predicates in a language – including those for words like ‘true’ and ‘satisfies’ that we use to state an extensional or extension-determining semantics.

Continuing the End Times series Richard Marshall interviews Mark Andrew Schroeder.