Category Archives: Books

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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Victorian anthropology

[Reading George W. Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (Free Press, 1987)] Stocking’s book is most centrally about how 19th-century upper-class British males managed to combine their sense of superiority with an emerging awareness of Darwinian evolution. Many loose threads needed to be woven … Continue reading

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Living cynically

(an excerpt from Doubts) The contemporary German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk defines “cynicism” as enlightened false consciousness. It is what results when we know all too well our own weaknesses and limitations, and our own involvement in dastardly practices, but then … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Historical episodes, Meanings of life / death / social & moral stuff, Stacks of Books | 7 Comments

Brave New World

Reading Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future (Viking, 2016). Kelly is one of the founding editors of Wired, and this book is about the promise of emerging technologies to, well, shape our … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Machines / gadgets / technology / games | 5 Comments

Justin E. H. Smith, The Philosopher

Reflections on Justin E. H. Smith, The Philosopher: A history in six types (Princeton UP, 2016). This is a timely, marvelous book that raises fruitful questions and criticisms especially about the ways philosophy is conceived by its modern-day, academic practitioners. … Continue reading

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Idealism and contingency

(Reading Terry Pinkard’s marvelous German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism) It may be that the tenability of idealism comes down to the question of history. A resolute idealist discovers that the most fundamental framework of existence is expressed as … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Kant and/or Hume, Metaphysical musings | 1 Comment