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Buzzwords » Top Reads of 2016: Richard Marshall (published 23/12/2016)

12 of what I’ve read this year: The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796-1880. Frederick Beiser. Beiser is an essential read and this is a great and readable book about an important sub-field of continental philosophy. It includes, for the Beckett fans amongst us, a chapter on Windelband, one of whose books Beckett read and from which […]

Interviews » Restless Hauntings: Richard Marshall Interviews Marina Warner (published 06/04/2009)

mw2By the time photography got into its stride it was accepted pretty much as a documentary index of reality. This was why it became very popular in spirit circles because it proved that spirits existed. Well now of course we know so much more about this very peculiar state of being which has been called ‘image flesh’ – a term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty that I like very much. It’s an expression I like because it implies flesh that is not flesh. He applied it to other forms of iconography, which are also image flesh. They might be more material than a photograph – a sculpture, a painting – but they share the relationship to the mind’s eye that photography does.

Richard Marshall talks Catholicism, zombies and Beckton Alps with Marina Warner.

Interviews » The End Times » Hegel and the Ethical Life (published 08/12/2018)

Costello presents a challenge to the account of critical reflection that I go on to offer, because she suggests that such atrocities could become so seamlessly integrated into everyday life that no one suspects (except lone critics like her) that there is something deeply wrong here.  It presents a challenge to Hegel’s optimism that, if there is something deeply wrong here, it will break through the surface in the form of practical contradictions, which will in turn make continued participation in the practice in question increasingly untenable. 

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Andreja Novakovic.

Essays » When Negativity Don’t Pull You Through: Asides on The Pessimismus Controversy 1 (published 05/12/2018)

In Bostridge’s obsession we’re drawn to a frozen non-identity creeping about, a Byronic lover going beyond whatever is now absent, beyond anything existing, finding the weight, beauty and indissoluble actuality of negation. Dylan’s ‘Clothesline Saga’ from the official Basemeant Tapes works the same inconsequential ramble, freighted with the refusal of deep memories and the certainty that nothing can happen. When nothing happens we remember the date and the name of the bridge from where its mystery is thrown off. We remember the weather which is just another sinister shaggy dog story. Another nothing.

Richard Marshall`s aside on negation’s creative hand.

Interviews » The End Times » Kant’s Sublime (published 30/11/2018)

Kantian moral psychology borrows quite a lot from the Stoics, including the basic conception of the good as the object of practical reason. In the second Critique (5:57ff.), Kant points out that German has ready resources to distinguish good from well-being (Güte from Wohl), and bad from ill-being (Böse from Übel). This is exactly the distinction that the Stoics drew, when they argued that the only truly good thing is virtue; anything else might have a kind of positive (or negative) value for planning things out so that things go well (or ill) for one. The Stoics, like Kant, think that human beings typically suffer from chronic misvaluing, where we confuse what is preferable in this latter way for what is genuinely good, and what is dispreferable in this latter way for what is genuinely bad. The only genuinely good thing is virtue, say the Stoics.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Melissa Merritt.

Interviews » The End Times » German Idealism and Modernism (published 23/11/2018)

On trial in The Trial is not only the confused and despairing Josef K., who finds himself being accused of a crime he seems to have no recollection of having committed and whose nature is never revealed to him, but our very capacity for making ourselves intelligible through the use of language. Of course, The Trial displays a surface clarity unsurpassed by most so-called modernist writings. Kafka was a brilliant story-teller and never conducted “experiments” with language. My claim, though, is that the surface clarity of his prose only barely disguises a deeper and more fundamental sense of uncertainty with regard to speech as a means for creating mutual understanding.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Espen Hammer.

Interviews » The End Times » How History Gets Things Wrong (published 22/11/2018)

Our whole culture and every civilization that we have any record of is constructed on the rickety foundations of the theory of mind. It has given us free will, moral responsibly, praise and blame, moral norms and political institutions, things we can’t dispense with in the normal course of life.  My book is a plea that when we try to mitigate the worst features of human interaction, to design better institutions, control an uncertain future, we try to use theories that have a chance of being on the right track instead of the theory of mind.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alex Rosenberg.

Interviews » The End Times » Dilthey, Simmel, Nietzsche, Benjamin: Life and Relativism (published 17/11/2018)

In the view of some, we are living in a “culture of life”. The practical impact of scientific discourses on life also points towards an important feature of the concept in general: when life becomes an epistemological object, established oppositions such as theory and practice or nature and culture are often transcended. Naturalistic concepts of life seek to explain also social, cultural, and even ethical phenomena. This holistic dimension of the concept of life makes possible, on the other, so many interventions on the part of the humanities against the reductionism of naturalistic explanations.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Johannes Steizinger.

Interviews » The End Times » Multi-Scale & Existentialist Freedoms (published 09/11/2018)

The idea of level encourages scientists, on the basis of nothing, to formulate the idea of dependence of everything on the minutest stuffs, because a level system admits of natural bottoms and tops.  And while there is no reason to resist the idea that any number of things depend on the minutest features of the universe, why (by the very same token) should we insist upon it?  In any case, it requires an argument to maintain any sort of dependence thesis, whatsoever its content.  That is my fundamental argument against levels.  By holding out the model of levels in advance of any argument to that end, we smuggle in some profound prejudices.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mariam Thalos.

Buzzwords » Oxford Think Festival: 10th – 18th November 2018 (published 07/11/2018)

Oxford Think Festival Celebrating the quest for knowledge and stimulating debate. BY KIM BEHRENS OCTOBER 15TH 2018 Oxford University Press is delighted to once again partner with Blackwell’s Oxford to host a weekend of talks and discussions. After three successful years as the Oxford Philosophy Festival, the event returns this year as the Oxford Think Festival. Celebrating the quest […]