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Adamhodgkin
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Interesting to contrast the style of this important book of Dennett's with that of his teacher Ryle. The Concept of Mind has I think no references to Ryle's contemporaries in philosophy and although it has some discussion of 'behaviourism' no actual behaviourist psychology is cited or referenced (no Watson, Hull or Skinner). Philosophy of mind could then be conceived of as not deeply grounded in scientific or experimental work. Dennett has quite often railed against the technical seclusion and over-elaborate methodology of much contemporary philosophy, perhaps the wide-ranging and broad-brush nature of his argument is one reason for the relative popularity of his books. This one was not written primarily for a philosophical audience though it merits one, as you point out.
The setup of this prize embodies a technological mismatch. In Rousseau's time it was expensive and difficult to print and publish a "long-form" contribution to philosophy or public thought. Not so now. A more appropriate use of web technology would require the publication of at least a long-list of entrants, before the proper judging and awarding of prizes begins. The extraordinary delay in advertising and then not awarding the prize and so belatedly publishing last year's prizewinner also betrays a clod-hopping technological disconnect. A more sensible procedure would be to invite contributions via some easy and private/public platform (eg Medium) the jury would then have to decide how many candidate essays would be made public and visible as candidates, then award the prize at the end of a suitable period of harvesting (such a method of judging seriatim would also allow for final decisions only to be made at the end of a period in which the field is ripening).Thank you for drawing our attention to Regina Rini's excellent essay.
Another striking example of the translational shift. J L Austin published his translation of Frege's *The Foundations of Arithmetic* in 1953, when he was 32 (and in a professional sense younger, if 5 years of military service is taken into account). Surely this choice of treatise, as an object for translation, helped him to make the dramatic shift from the philosophical practice of his teachers (Cook Wilson, Joseph and Prichard) to the radically different methods of his maturity.
Any ideas on why cricket appears to be particularly attractive as a source of philosophical examples/metaphors? I guess that chess is also a popular source, but American football, ice hockey and tennis don't seem to have the same appeal.
You are right about the reason why publishers are pushing for endnotes rather than footnotes, but its not to do with typesetting in the traditional sense, it has much more to do with a widespread belief that documents when they are digital should 'flow'. eBooks have problems with footnotes. The alleged 'cost' of typesetting footnotes is negligible. Most academic and scholarly publishers are still committed to a paginated view of documents, but there is a widespread assumption in other areas of publishing that its a mark of modernity for documents to flow and scroll. Its much easier to cope with endnotes rather than footnotes if the page on which content is ultimately displayed is completely re-scaleable. Even when publishers produce the canonical digital version of their texts in a paginated format (Science Direct, PLOS, JSTOR or Oxford Scholarship Online all do) they may even so wish to have a format which gives them the potential flexibility for delivering arbitrary chunks. I think this obsession with reflowable text is a passing fad, and Google Books had it right in giving scrupulous attention to the traditional format of the book. But that is not a view widely shared in book publishing these days.
Ruth Barcan Marcus was for some years in the 80's and 90's an adviser to Oxford University Press on its philosophy publishing, a kind of US-based quasi-Delegate. Along with Tom Nagel this pair was asked to act as meta-advisers to editors based in Oxford and New York. When that system started, specifically at the prompting of David Pears, I was the Oxford-based editor and it was very noticeable how helpful, positive and broad-minded both these advisers were. Ruth was an unknown quantity to me and I had no idea what to expect from her. What we got was advice that was always sharp and insightful, and I think she enjoyed the role. Oxford was lucky to have such advisers in the years when its list of philosophy authors was growing from a base that had been too Oxford-focussed. Ruth was impressive and she was lots of fun.
Anscombe attracted good stories and I am sure that many of them were true. One should admire her courage but she was also a great one for ingenious argument. When I was a student at Cambridge I tried to attend her lectures whenever possible and found her discussions and dialogue very rewarding. It was said that she gave up smoking cigarettes (and took up cigars, perhaps even the pipe?) because she had vowed to give up cigarettes if her son was spared during some critical illness, did God know that she had made that mental reservation about cigarettes/cigars? Or did it only subsequently occur to her? She had a naturalness and a solidity as a philosopher and a discussant that was most impressive and she deserves a decent biography. One should remember that her style of Catholicism was quite unfashionable in Catholic circles at that time, and it still is.
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Jan 11, 2011