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Eric Schliesser
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At 78, Robert Pirsig, probably the most widely read philosopher alive, can look back on many ideas of himself. There is the nine-year-old-boy with the off-the-scale IQ of 170, trying to work out how to connect with his classmates in Minnesota. There is the young GI in Korea picking up... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Digressions&Impressions
3. You don’t need to feel like you’re succeeding. There are some days where you’ll feel successful, but not many. Again, you may have completed 1-2% of a project, but often it’s tough to see where that piece fits into the larger whole. The other part of this is that... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
Is that what civilization is: an unwhispered agreement that no one, no matter how insignificant, should be allowed lose face?--J.M. Coetzee, Youth, p. 157. There are three important characteristics of civilization mentioned here: (a) a tacit agreement or norm; (b) fundamental (even if minimal) equality; (c) a taboo against causing... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
Thank you for that. I did not realize this before.
The nineteenth century bestowed upon us the amalgamation of nation and state. Since Jews everywhere were loyal to the state--you do recall, don't you?--they had to attempt to shed their nationality, they had to assimilate. The twentieth century has shown us the ultimate consequences of nationalism, as evidenced by horrible... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
During the last year, I have read more than 400 cover letters (I have lost track) in the context of four (junior) job searches. These jobs were all advertised in political science, but three of the positions also encouraged applications by philosophers and other social scientists. (Two of these searches... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
To say that Venice is an interior is a possible summation of everything I have said so far. It means that it is self-sufficient, that it has no need of anything outside itself and this same self-sufficiency is what creates that 'endless imaginary fragmentation': the narrow becomes wide, the near... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
The basic deception and self-deception practised by nationalism is this: nationalism is, essentially, the general imposition of a high culture on society, where previously low cultures had taken up the lives of the majority, and in some cases of the totality, of the population. It means that generalized diffusion of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
But new reapers will arise, and they, too, will seek a field. It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
Now it is an unquestionable fact that those who are equally acquainted with, and equally capable of appreciating and enjoying, both, do give a most marked preference to the manner of existence which employs their higher faculties. Few human creatures would consent to be changed into any of the lower... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
I will die – of course I will – and I suppose that represents a challenge of sorts. But the problem I have with death is that other people die. Whatever trouble my own death poses is but dull afterthought to more potent longings against loss. Where one wants help... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
Suppose, however, that all these doubts about Stubblefield’s conviction are mistaken. Even on that assumption, a sentence of 12 years in prison is excessive both in itself and in comparison with other recent punishments. It is, for example, in striking contrast to the penalty given to Brock Turner, the former... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
The greater ability for experiencing abstract and general feelings, that is feelings that are only the consciousness of what several individual feelings have in common, like the greater ability for forming abstract and general ideas is the greatest distinction of hearts and minds. Only those hearts capable of such feelings... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
Over the twelve years following the publication of this landmark paper, Parfit worked relentlessly on the manuscripts that were to become Reasons and Persons (1984). This book has often been described as comprising four distinct but closely connected books: one on the ways in which moral theories can be self-defeating,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
However we have not paid sufficient attention to what a small number of philosophers have been saying over the last few years. We will not hesitate to repeat it here, for truths must be told not only until they are adopted by every enlightened person, but until all those who... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
Disputes in philosophy of time over how to understand the significance of special relativity, for example, are hampered by difficulties over how to read the developments in physics as contributions to philosophy. Disputes arise as to whether the philosophical challenges posed by relativity of simultaneity in special relativity can be... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
Last week I received an email from a foreign MA student unknown to me. He had a query about the relationship between two of my papers to Newton's Principia and along the way it asked for clarification of a cryptic footnote. In our ensuing exchange it became clear that the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
A passionate Zionist from the time of his first publications at the beginning of the century, Buber has always known how to infuse Zionism with a distinctive spirit. He has an unparalleled way of combining the preservation of the past with the struggle for the future. Now and always, he... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
"Try to find Cugoano in a philosophical syllabus," Coleman notes. You will fail. Similarly, if you search for "philosophers" in Google Images, you will find only ""white men," usually with beards." According to Coleman, the philosophical canon is socially constructed and unjustly excludes Africans like Cugoano or Anton Wilhelm Amo,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects too are, perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding, or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
One of Dennett’s most important claims is that most of what we and our fellow organisms do to stay alive, cope with the world and one another, and reproduce is not understood by us or them. It is competence without comprehension. This is obviously true of organisms like bacteria and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
Genuine higher learning is possible only where free, reasoned, and civil speech and discussion are respected.--Free Inquiry on Campus: A Statement of Principles by over One Hundred Middlebury College Professors [HT WSJ] [The first part in this series can be found here.] During my studies, I was a student rep... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
First, after the end of Dutch colonial empire, Dutch foreign policy became very simple: (i) sign up for european integration to prevent another war between Germany and France; (ii) get the UK involved inside the European Union as a trade-friendly counterweight toward France and Germany; (iii) promote the NATO as... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2017 at Digressions&Impressions
As is clear from mjmy post I do not endorse the idea that one should publish work in academic journals first. That would impoverish democratic debate (and would disallow my kind of blogging)! But we should also not be too sanguine about the effect of pseudo-science on the public. There are no easy solutions here. Heckling is part of political life (or do you prefer no protests at all?), but it is also -- as I suggest in my post -- perfectly legitimate to remove hecklers or keep them out of various university spaces.