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Eric Schliesser
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This is the end of my first year blogging at D&I. I want to thank you, my dear readers, for your ongoing interest and responsiveness to my daily musings. I also want to thank some of my distinguished guest-bloggers (Dan Dennett, Alistair Isaac, Neil McArthur, Lisa Herzog, Bryce Huebner, Joel... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
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In 1941 my late grandmother, the then celebrated Berlin fashion designer Margarete Neumann Schliesser, was imprisoned by the Germans in Westerbork (which had started out as a refugee camp for German Jews fleeing the Nazis, but, after the German conquest of the Netherlands, became the main deportation camp for Dutch... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
"It is the month of December" [December est mensis] [Letter 18], and on a good day for business, I return to Seneca, who asks his interlocuter, if we should not join in with the mob, to appear in sync with public mores [ne dissidere videremur cum publicis moribus], but then... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
The more I realized this, the more I got angry. Not mainly at my committee, since they started to seem to me like mere mortals who didn't know what to do. I got angry at Wittgenstein. I thought about what Goldfarb said about me not being Wittgenstein, and I realized... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
Yesterday, at an informal fund-raiser, I bumped into a former student who had taken a seminar on Coetzee that I had co-taught with the Dutch novelist, Arnon Grunberg, half a decade ago. (Grunberg was the star attraction of the fund-raiser, so I wouldn't suggest a role for chance here.) I... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
Chike, I am not against trying to infer the intentions of thinkers from the past, especially if we are interested in their agency or evaluating their moral stances. But I argue (in various papers and blog posts) that (a) it is a mistake to reduce the history of philosophy to this enterprise, and (b) we can understand the meaning(s) of texts from the past without access to the intentions of their authors.
Heidegger scholarship is in crisis these days, and not just because his anti-Semitism has recently been put on full display. The crisis, rather, is that almost ninety years after his major work was published and sixty years after his best work was finished, Heidegger scholars still cannot agree on what... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
The professionalization of the subject has made philosophers of self-knowledge far too comfortable with the idea that their job is to discover technical solutions to technical problems generated by background philosophical assumptions about the nature of knowledge and mind. They may insist that what is philosophically worthwhile can’t be decided... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
Let me know what you find/learn.
Carlotta (yes?), I would be amazed (even concerned) that a dilettante classicist like me could give you useful advice, but feel free to send me a chapter or paper that you believe would be most useful to have me comment on.
Toggle Commented Dec 11, 2014 on On Being a PhD Supervisor at Digressions&Impressions
Yes, I think Hume has his eyes also on contemporary issues and so your suggestion strikes me as very plausible, Aaron.
I regard the basic human value that underlies my own beliefs as tolerance, based on humility. I have no right to coerce someone else, because I cannot be sure that I am right and he is wrong….no simple (practical) principle is really adequate. We do not have all the answers,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
[This is a guest-post by Alistair Isaac.--ES] The facts of Patrick Suppes’ career read like tall-tales of some 17th century polymath. In addition to philosophy, he held appointments in psychology, education, and statistics; he also made major contributions in the foundations of physics, linguistics, and the social sciences. Although best... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
As regular readers of D&I know, despite serious methodological misgivings, I defend the utility of PGR (on relatively narrow grounds), and participated in the PGR report. I am a product of the PGR ecology (see here for more on this terminology), but I am employed outside of it. I participated... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
I like the practice of some journals to mention when the paper was received and accepted. In a monograph or edited volume, one can use the introduction to date when one put the finishing touch on the ms.
For several years, I have been posing the following choice for my fellow philosophers: if Mephistopheles offered you the following two options, which would you choose? (A) You solve the major philosophical problem of your choice so conclusively that there is nothing left to say (thanks to you, part of... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
Yesterday I noted that in his treatment in the Agricola of the Roman conquest of Britain, Tacitus gives pride of place to the speech by Galgacus ahead of the decisive battle. It's an eloquent statement of the argument against empire. It is especially noteworthy that the speech goes well beyond... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
Enzo, I think Tacitus is being more subtle and complicated (or cowardly) than your suggestion. For, as he makes clear in the text (at the start and end), he also does not act on the Stoic thing to do. He lived through the (very bad) periods he is describing, after all. But I don't see clear evidence he thought suicide was the right way to go. Rather, he seems to be saying, 'keep your head down and hope for better times' and serve where you can (or something to that effect).
To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.--Galgacus (as reported by Tacitus). It is, indeed, human nature to hate the man whom you have injured [Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris].--Tacitus One of the great oddities of The... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
Students and scholars are often taught to frown on anachronism (recall this post, and this one) and to embrace so-called actors's categories (recall this polemical post). The Reductio ad absurdum <grin> of this habit is to leave terms from the past untranslated and in foreign script (recall here and here).... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions
First, Mark, you quote the Bentley correspondence out of context. (I already said that above.) He is answering a how-possible question by Bentley. Second, as Leibniz discerned, and Newton kind of acknowledges in the Queries to the Opticks there is no guarantee of equilibrium in Newton's understanding of either the solar system and at larger cosmological scales. (It is unclear if the active principles can guarantee it or if God who rewinds things is required.) Third, the passage you quote from the Principia says two main things:(i) that the various solar systems/stars are too far apart to have an effect on each other (something he repeats in the General Scholium where it is part of an argument to design)--that is orthogonal to homogeneity issue, although (ii) Newton's 'promiscuously dispersed' is a clear denial of homogeneity, too, (it means disorderly organized). (This, too, is repeated in the General scholium.) This is not to deny that he also seems to have thought that their actions cancel each other out, and it is unclear why he thinks he has evidence for that.
We have to be careful about the use of 'static.' Newton quite clearly thought that space and time were co-eternal/co-extensive with God or God's being and, thus, infinite in various senses. (He says as much in General Scholium.) But he tends to suggest that matter would have been created by God's free will. Newton was very coy about what this entailed for the future evolution of the universe.
Mark, the letter you quote is an answer to a hypothetical question that Bentley posed him (about, I suspect, what a Spinozistic cosmogeny would look like). In the General Scholium, Newton quite clearly denies that matter is evenly scattered through the universe.
Mark, on your 1. David Wallace is right (and this was understood by Newton). And, moreover, the way the problem of forces canceling is standard-ly understood during the period is in the context of cosmogeny (or the origin of first motion) and the nature of matter. Mark on your 2. Newton explicitly denies that matter is uniformly spread over the universe. He solves the problem you discern by insisting that individual solar systems are so far apart that they won't fall in on each other. (Also, it is by no means obvious that Newton things the position of the stars is static.) David, I don't think Newton thinks the universe is expanding or contracting, but I admit that I have not looked carefully at all his cosmological papers. (I should ask Chris Smeenk.)
This universal Benevolence toward all Men, we may compare to that Principle of Gravitation, which perhaps extends to all Bodys in the Universe; but like the Love of Benevolence, increases as the Distance is diminish’d, and is strongest when Bodys come to touch each other. Now this increase of Attraction... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2014 at Digressions&Impressions