Category Archives: Books

Philosophy as enchantment?

[What follows is a version of an address recently given at the Mountain-Plains Philosophy Conference, where a good time was had by all.] In a lecture at the University of Munich in 1919 – the year before he died – … Continue reading

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Philosophy and its history

Philosophy and its History: aims and methods in the study of early modern philosophy, edited by Mogens Laerke, Justin E. H. Smith, and Eric Schliesser (Oxford UP, 2013). For the longest time, philosophers were interested in their own history only … Continue reading

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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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