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Eric Schliesser
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An extreme rightwing terrorist has been sentenced to prison for the rest of his life for the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox after a seven-day Old Bailey trial in which he made no effort to defend himself. Thomas Mair repeatedly shot and stabbed Cox in an attack during... Continue reading
Posted 9 hours ago at Digressions&Impressions
Athenian Do you consider that there is any truth in the ancient tales?...That the world of men has often been destroyed by floods, plagues, and many other things, in such a way that only a small portion of the human race has survived...Come now, let us picture to ourselves one... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Digressions&Impressions
[I]t is foolish to pray for this when you can acquire it from yourself. We do not need to uplift our hands towards heaven, or to beg the keeper of a temple to let us approach his idol's ear, as if in this way our prayers were more likely to... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
Last year I wrote post (recall) about Sophie Grouchy's analysis of enthusiasm and inserted her into a historical narrative. Shortly thereafter I received a long letter from my friend the mathematical economist, M.A. Khan, showing fatal flaws in my analysis and sketching an alternative interpretation. One nice feature of these... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
Regular readers may recall that I have been interested in Sophie de Grouchy's account of enthusiasm (recall here and here) which is very important to her account of demagogues (recall also here, and here). Grouchy’s Letters on Sympathy [hereafter: LS] was first published appended to her (1798) French translation of... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
1) We want information about the causal processes that produce the data, and their regularities; and 2) We have available only experimental interventions that are themselves insufficient for those goals. This is not your grandfather's science, or Popper's. These and other scientific endeavors could surely use help from whatever source,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
[T]he memory of war played once again an important role, the twentieth-century ‘socialist’ welfare states were constructed not as an advance guard of egalitarian revolution but to provide a barrier against the return of the past: against economic depression and its polarizing, violent political outcome in the desperate politics of... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Digressions&Impressions
Ploddingly detailed expository arguments deserve a central role in academic philosophy. Yay for boring stuff! But emotionally engaging fiction can be philosophy too. And science fiction or "speculative fiction" has a special philosophical value that is insufficiently appreciated by mainstream philosophers. ... Canonically recognized Western philosophers have often worked through... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
I distinguish between active and passive no-platforming. By 'active no-platforming' I wish to track what the OED defines as no-platforming (simpliciter), that is to "prevent (a person holding views regarded as unacceptable or offensive) from contributing to a public debate or meeting, especially one at which they had originally been... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
The force of words being, as I have formerly noted, too weak to hold men to the performance of their covenants, there are in man’s nature but two imaginable helps to strengthen it. And those are either a fear of the consequence of breaking their word, or a glory or... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
Mani pulite (Italian: [ˈmaːni puˈliːte], Italian for "clean hands") was a nationwide judicial investigation into political corruption in Italy held in the 1990s, resulting in the demise of the so-called "First Republic" and the disappearance of many political parties. Some politicians and industry leaders committed suicide after their crimes were... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
NOTHING appears more surprizing to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers. When we enquire by what means... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
According to the “liberal” or Lockean view, the democratic process acomplishes [sic] the task of programming the government in the interest of society, where the government is represented as an apparatus of public administration, and society as a market-structured network of interactions among private persons. Here politics (in the sense... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
Divide academic reputation up into three types. There is prestige attached to position -- the department one works for, the career stage one is at, whether one has a named chair, just in general the prestige attached to occupying a role. There is prestige attached to achievement -- here I... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
When senator John McCain died last year, there was an outpouring of appreciation for his career from across the political spectrum. The praise was just as strong, if not stronger, from those who had been on the opposite side of politics from McCain as from those on his own. There... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
But, having said all this, is there any hope in Houellebecq’s oeuvre? If, as in his view, the modern world is based on a fundamentally flawed anthropology—and has, as a consequence, produced a completely dysfunctional society—then it cannot continue to exist for very long. Individualism has reached its final stage... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
Even if there were secret negotiations that have prepared a compromise, it seems that final Brexit negotiations will be decided under conditions in which neither the political classes nor the public(s) have been prepared for the contents of a negotiated outcome. This means that there will be a period of... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
As Claude Lévi-Strauss often pointed out, early Homo sapiens were not just physically the same as modern humans, they were our intellectual peers as well. In fact, most were probably more conscious of society’s potential than people generally are today, switching back and forth between different forms of organization every... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
Political liberals like John Rawls and Charles Larmore start from what they characterize as the 'fact' of pluralism, that is, the multiplicity of conceptions of the good that exist in modern democratic society. This leads to the 'liberal problem' of how to organize coexistence among people with different conceptions of... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
So the type of immortality I have in mind is not a magical one where death is strictly impossible. But it is the practical removal of death’s certainty. Biological immortals would no longer expect to die within any relevant time frame. This point allows us to sidestep one of the... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
I shall just underline two of the consequences of Hobbes's removal of the heroic type. On the one hand there is an absence of any precision which could characterise the sovereign by his natural qualities or by a type of training. The question is shifted completely from the institution (or... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
Rather, the purpose of the balance of power is to ensure that no nation grows so strong that it is in a position of “making law” for the others. Its purpose is, in other words, to preserve the freedom of nations to make law for themselves—which is to say, to... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
The ratio of parliament rests, according to the apt characterization of Rudolf Smend, in a “dynamic-dialectic,” that is, in a process of confrontation of differences and opinions, from which the real political will results. The essence of parliament is therefore public deliberation of argument and counterargument, public debate and public... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
Behind one half of Ferrante’s pen name, Elena, is a tale from Greek mythology. According to a relatively little-known version of the story, Zeus rapes and impregnates, not Leda the swan, but Nemesis, who turns herself into a goose to escape him. She then lays an egg, found by a... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions
Liverpool's You'll Never Walk Alone has everything a great football song needs: it expresses camaraderie, perseverance ("Walk on through the rain/Though your dreams be tossed and blown"), hope, and a reasonably catchy, even melodramatic tune that is, in fact, not at all easy to sing.* It is the song of... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2019 at Digressions&Impressions