Wednesday, April 16, 2014
 
Wittgenstein certainly regarded himself a philosopher, and certainly believed in the fundamental truth of what he was saying. So it would be a misleading oversimplification to maintain that he was “against philosophy” or against “the possibility of philosophical truth”. More accurately, what he criticized was a certain kind of philosophy – perhaps the dominant kind in the West.
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  • While China prepared for the 2008 Olympics, the artist Ai Weiwei was busy collaborating with the Swiss architectural firm, Herzog & de Meuron, on the Bird’s Nest stadium. Gradually, Ai began to experience a deep sense of disgust: “I was so involved in architecture that it opened my eyes to society, dealing with bureaucracy, policies and workers,” Ai observes, “and then you start to realise why they are building, and how they are using it. It is a very political act.”
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  • I understand why Freud at the end of Civilization and Its Discontents said that he couldn’t preach an alternative to the social order as it was, even as he saw it heading for total disaster. Once he jettisons the idea of the good, it becomes almost impossible to envisage political struggle. The political thinker smuggles it back in, even when she or he accepts its explicit rejection, because some idea of the good seems to be a necessary condition for the possibility of politics. But I wrote the book believing that the abandonment of the good still left a small opening for thinking politics. And I don’t see any other way of doing it than focusing on the opposition between the good and enjoyment. Once we accept that the good is antithetical to our enjoyment, is a barrier to our enjoyment, it becomes possible to think politics beyond the good.
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  • anyone familiar with Penny Goring (her work, her Tumblr, her Tweets) will understand why I’m chuffed to be featuring her here in the 3rd installment of my UK Author’s Spotlight. anyone not familiar with Penny should check her out. most every link in this post will be to her Tumblr or Twitter. except for the one to her book, the zoom zoom.
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  • Professor of Modern European History at the Institute for Advanced Study located in Princeton, New Jersey, Israel built his reputation as a historian of the Spanish and Dutch empires. Over the past decade, however, he has published an extraordinary trilogy, Radical Enlightenment, Enlightenment Contested and Democratic Enlightenment, that has begun to reset the debate about the character of the period and its meaning for the modern world.
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  • In politics, sometimes the thing that will never happen actually starts to happen, preparing the ground for transformation. Judith Butler speaks on the Israel/Palestine conflict and her recent book Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. By now, Judith Butler is used to improbable accusations. Among other things, she has been called a “useful idiot” for anti-Semites, a supporter of terrorism and – that old classic – a self-hating Jew.
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  • I had been emailing Stinson for approximately two weeks prior to randomly walking into him and recognizing him in the street on Houston, by the Angelika. It was a particularly bad day for me emotionally – or rather, “professionally?” – as I had completed an immense amount of work I did not feel happy conducting and had spent approximately half an hour crying uncontrollably in a cubicle. “Erik?” I said, to which he responded affirmatively.
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  • Historians are notoriously reluctant to give yes-or-no answers to any question, and this one is a particularly apt candidate for an ambivalent response. Marx certainly made lots of hostile comments about Jews in his correspondence, whether about his encounters with obscure individuals or in regard to his relations with his pupil and rival Ferdinand Lassalle. In his 1844 essay “On the Jewish Question,” he denounced Judaism as a religion encouraging haggling, greed, obsession with money and a whole host of obnoxious capitalist attitudes.
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  • Any identity, even a Latina identity, can be very limiting. When I speak on panels with other women, you wouldn’t believe how much slut-shaming there is, which is why this work is so important to me. I think it’s ignorance and a lack of understanding.
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  • Happiness is something that Ruskin talks about a lot in The Seven Lamps of Architecture, and in various essays on architecture. He talks about one of the goals of architecture as being happiness. I think this probably comes from his readings of Vitruvius.
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  • I don’t know about the time of Marx’s original publications, but I’d like to believe that in the 1890s perhaps, 1920s, when there was a strong labor movement going on in the country, a lot of civil unrest, my sense of things is that it was possible to describe oneself as a Marxist, to use Marxist ideas, to appropriate Marxist categories and language, to use the ideas of socialism in a fairly overt and mainstream way for the purpose of social organization.
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  • Well, one important thing to keep in mind is that in the 65 events that I did, at each stop I would tell them that we must bring Reaganism to a close – McCain and Palin were the last moments of Reaganite policy (unregulated markets, indifference towards the poor, stagnating wages) – and that if Obama won, I would break dance in the afternoon and be his major critic the next morning. That’s how I ended every speech
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  • It was because my parents wanted me to be a lawyer. I actually did take a Constitutional Law course in order to please them; but when I’d read some judicial decisions, it seemed to me I could make equally bad arguments without bothering to get a law degree. Hence philosophy since, being very young, I thought of philosophers as particularly rational sorts of people; a view of which faculty meetings soon disabused me.
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by Daniel Bosch
Even before the camera slowly swings upward from her mouth to her eyes, even before we realize that those are not opaque black pits but irises, the first frames of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo have made us conscious of how a camera and a screen limit and fix visual perception — even with all their jump cuts, films concentrate better than we do. And so it is strangely a relief to fall as we do into the pupil of the eye that Hitchcock’s camera enters.
by Stephen T. Asma
In his 1790 Critique of Judgment, Kant famously predicted that there would never be a “Newton for a blade of grass.” Biology, he thought, would never be unified and reduced down to a handful of mechanical laws, as in the case of physics. This, he argued, is because we cannot expunge teleology (goal-directedness) from living systems. The question “what is it for?” applies to living structures in a way that has no corollary in physics.
by Eric Schneider
Were Philadelphia police different? In some ways, yes; in other ways, no. City police may not have exchanged their badges for the white hoods of vigilante groups, but a nearly completely white police force held the same racial prejudices of the Philadelphia neighborhoods from which they were recruited.
by Russell Bennetts
Wittgenstein certainly regarded himself as a philosopher, and certainly believed in the fundamental truth of what he was saying. So it would be a misleading oversimplification to maintain that he was “against philosophy” or against “the possibility of philosophical truth”. More accurately, what he criticized was a certain kind of philosophy – perhaps the dominant kind in the West.
by Michael B. Katz
The biological definition of poverty reinforces the idea of the undeserving poor, which is the oldest theme in post-Enlightenment poverty discourse. Its history stretches from the late eighteenth century through to the present. Poverty, in this view, results from personal failure and inferiority. Moral weaknesses – drunkenness, laziness, sexual promiscuity – constitute the most consistent markers of the undeserving poor.
by Volker M. Welter
Following a map for a driving tour along Palm Spring’s mid-twentieth century Modernist homes and buildings, I had just peeked at Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House, the rebellious sibling from 1947 of Frank Lloyds Wright’s Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania, which was begun for the same client in 1935. Figuring out on the map where to drive to next, a house whose owner was identified as Dr. Franz Alexander caught my attention.
by Albert Rolls
Consider, for example, the Pynchon anecdotes told by the television producer Deane Rink — who attended Cornell a few years after Pynchon and studied creative writing under Walter Slatoff, with whom Pynchon had also studied. Rink tells his stories as part of an early Web exercise in which he sent emails for publication to the B&R Samizdat Express at the end of 1996, when he was in McMurdo, Antarctica, to work on Live from Antarctica (1997) for PBS productions.
by Cain Todd
In an effort to be interdisciplinary, and to keep up with the current trend for all things neuroscience, I recently attended a conference in Berlin on neuroaesthetics. One of only two philosophers in the room, I found myself on the receiving end of an incredibly hostile attack after asking a question of the founding guru of the discipline, the neuroscientist Professor Semir Zeki of University College London.
by Patricia Emison
I came to John Berger’s Ways of Seeing through the back door. About a decade after the four-part series on the BBC (1972) had excited attention as a scrappy response to Kenneth Clark’s staid Civilisation (1969), I read the book because the title was so often cited. I confess that I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. It was a little, murkily grey book that seemed to make rather obvious points about how the Old Masters had reinforced orthodoxies to which we no longer subscribe.
by Joel Gn
Certainly for the adherents of Anonymous, possessing the technique to re-write a web-page is similar to achieving autonomy over the ones who created it, even if this form of autonomy exposes itself to the contradiction of working with the same language or code necessary for the construction and subsequent deconstruction of a page. As argued by Emit Snake-Beings, it is precisely such technology that endows us with ‘the means of emancipation, whilst perpetually delaying its arrival through the emergence of new and absorbing social paradigms’.
by Frank R. Stockton
In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done.
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