Category Archives: Books

The Cold War’s shaping of American philosophy

John McCumber, Time in the Ditch: American philosophy and the McCarthy era (Northwestern UP 2001) George Reisch, How the Cold War Transformed Philosophy of Science (Cambridge UP 2005) Whether inclined toward socialism in the 1930s or defending itself against anticommunism … Continue reading

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Sloterdijk’s Spheres

I finished reading volume 3 of Sloterdijk’s Spheres trilogy, and then went back and read the whole series again. It has been a delightful struggle to think through the rich banquet of ideas and images he offers. I have written up … Continue reading

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Dansplaining

(Some reflections on Dennett’s From Bacteria to Bach and Back.) Daniel Dennett loves to explain. In route to explain one thing, he’ll explain three intermediate things, taking time out to explore four or five tangential things. We might call this … Continue reading

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On teaching mediocre books

It’s been a few years now since I realized an obvious truth. The great majority of my students, and even the majority of the philosophy majors I teach, are not going to graduate school in philosophy. This is as it … Continue reading

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Demons and Descartes

(Reading The Possession at Loudun, by Michel de Certeau, translated by Michael B. Smith) Over the years 1632-38, in the French town of Loudun, 17 nuns and 10 secular women were examined and treated for being under the sway of … Continue reading

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Getting the facts straight

[Reading Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity, Zone Books, 2007.] We might think that knowers have striven always for objectivity, for a vision of the world unblemished by the viewer’s own biases and prejudices. But Daston and Galison argue that … Continue reading

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The Problem of Disenchantment

[Reading Egil Asprem, The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900-1939. Brill, 2014.] Egil Asprem’s fascinating and learned work is centered around seeing disenchantment – or the growing propensity to see nature as empty of magical and divine … Continue reading

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