Category Archives: Philosophy

Identifying Things

Identification, says Korzybski, is a blunt tool. Language is a box full of tools, all imperfect, none quite fit for purpose, their functioning performative and never exactly descriptive. Meaning: anything we can say about the world is never quite how … Continue reading

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Toynbee and the Enlightenment

Arnold J Toynbee has some bad news in Volume VI of his A Study of History: Western civilisation is showing all the signs of being in its final decline. Civilisations decline when they fail to respond to challenges they face. … Continue reading

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Hegel: Knowledge, Desire, and Freedom

The first part of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, concerning “consciousness,” shows us how knowledge of objects is knowledge only of oneself. In other words, it describes how we reach the initial premise of “transcendental idealism” – a philosophy created by … Continue reading

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Herder’s First Principle

The life of rational individuals is chaotic as a madhouse. Herder writes: “Whoever goes into a madhouse finds all the fools raving in a different way, each in his world; thus do we all rave, very rationally, each according to … Continue reading

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Charles Taylor: Herder and Hegel

In the first chapter of Charles Taylor’s 1975 book Hegel, he sets the scene. He’s describing the kinds of ideas that were floating around in Hegel’s time, that defined the problems Hegel would come to tackle when he began his … Continue reading

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Hegel, Theodicy and Contradiction

This is a paper I presented at the “Hegel’s Conception of Contradiction: Logic, Life and History” conference in Leuven on 17th May 2013. In retrospect, it seems strange to talk about theodicy without also discussing God and the problem of … Continue reading

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First Encounters: Miller, Dostoevsky, Deleuze and Guattari

“Such a day it may be when first you encounter Dostoevsky. You remember the smell of the tablecloth on which the book rests; you look at the clock and it is only five minutes from eternity; you count the objects … Continue reading

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Henry Miller and Being in the Moment

(Some notes on the text and related thoughts as I read Indrek Männiste’s Henry Miller: The Inhuman Artist Chapter 3. Where I write about Zen I’m recalling – however imperfectly – something from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. … Continue reading

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Some notes as I work through Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Grammar

(Quotations are from Philosophical Grammar by Ludwig Wittgenstein, translated by Anthony Kenny, published 1974 by Blackwell. I’m mostly looking at Part 1 Chapter 1 section 2, found on pages 39-40 of this edition.) “We regard understanding as the essential thing, … Continue reading

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More Notes on Michael Hardt

In Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship in Philosophy, Michael Hardt gives us four “methodological principles” for reading the work of Gilles Deleuze. 1. “Recognise the object and the terms of the primary antagonism.” Every philosophical project is aimed at someone, or … Continue reading

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