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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 .

Interviews » The End Times » 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.

Criticism » Buildings Must Die (published 03/05/2014)

Zizek writes: ‘The feeling for the inert has a special significance in our age, in which the obverse of the capitalist drive to produce ever more new objects is a growing mountain of useless waste, used cars, out-of-date computers, etc, like the famous resting place for an old aircraft in the Mojave desert. In these piles of stuff, one can perceive the capitalist drive at rest.’

Richard Marshall reviews Stephen Cairns’s and Jane M. Jacobs’s Buildings Must Die. A Perverse View of Architecture.

Interviews » The End Times » 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.