Berfrois

Why do some rare individuals become the vehicles of universal ideas?

Why do some rare individuals become the vehicles of universal ideas?

Born on May 5, 1818, in Trier, a city in the German Rhineland, Marx was the third child of Jewish converts to Christianity. His father Heinrich, né Herschel, had no choice except to fall in with the Lutheran Church if he wished to practice law in Prussia.

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From the Fog

From the Fog

A Philosopher, Jacopo Tintoretto, 1570 From 3:AM: ‘Point to the fog. Now point away from it. Now brush your teeth. (Philosophy as a type of activity) ‘Seduction is the premature ejaculation of the future. It works best after brushing your teeth.’ ‘Always attach yourself...

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‘The deep-freeze was full for years to come’

‘The deep-freeze was full for years to come’

Herb and Harry were the names of our two steers, the one a Hereford, the other a Holstein. They did not do much but stand, bovine and stoic, from one day to the next. They sculpted strange rolling shapes into the salt lick with their fat blue tongues, and...

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Is philosophy more like ballet or more like dance?

Is philosophy more like ballet or more like dance?

On a certain plausible --but ultimately unsatisfactory-- definition, ‘philosophy’ is simply a proper noun. It describes a particular tradition, just like the terms ‘ballet’ and ‘butoh’. It would be odd to claim that there is an indigenous tradition of Polynesian ballet, not because anyone believes that Polynesians are inherently...

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What Is Forgetting?

What Is Forgetting?

The Virtue Wagon, Paul Klee, 1922 by Lauren Berlant Not unintentional forgetting, but of a thing that insists on being in the flow of things. It could be the forgetting of a dream you can’t stop because you’re in it, or of a sense that the world is converging...

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If They Say Why by Agustin Fuentes and Aku Visala

If They Say Why by Agustin Fuentes and Aku Visala

This debate is a good example of why ‘human nature’ is still a relevant concept. What does biology actually say about the origins of human morality and its flexibility? Is it true that we are slaves to our biological imperatives or can we use our flexible minds to significantly...

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Tamar Aylat-Yaguri on Kierkegaard and Judaism

Tamar Aylat-Yaguri on Kierkegaard and Judaism

When Johannes Climacus defines Christianity in the Postscript, he writes:

Christianity is spirit; spirit is inwardness; inwardness is subjectivity; subjectivity is essentially passion, and at its maximum an infinite, personally interested passion for one’s eternal happiness.

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Badiou’s Break?

Badiou’s Break?

Philosophy Consoling Boethius and Fortune Turning the Wheel, attributed to Henri de Vulcop, c.1470 From Notre Dame Philosophical Review: What are we to make of the recent ascendance of Alain Badiou to the position of general representative of French philosophy in the Anglophone humanities? There are multiple possible explanations,...

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j/j hastain: rebellion

j/j hastain: rebellion

When Yaweh advanced into Ezekiel in the form of penetration, the four wings of the chariot became instantly erect and bloodshot and then fell directly into limpness.

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Kant’s Peace

Kant’s Peace

by Immanuel Kant Whether this satirical inscription on a Dutch innkeeper’s sign upon which a burial ground was painted had for its object mankind in general, or the rulers of states in particular, who are insatiable of war, or merely the philosophers who dream this sweet dream, it is...

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Foucault’s Don Quixote

Foucault’s Don Quixote

For my last post on Cervantes and his “invention of fiction” before handing in my finished manuscript, I wanted to return to one of the most influential interpretations of his work in the twentieth century: that of Michel Foucault. To begin with, we should recall that Foucault chooses two...

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Capitalism, Drugs and Morality

Capitalism, Drugs and Morality

by Justin E. H. Smith I dreamt last night that I was sharing a taxi with Putin from Moscow to Sheremetyevo airport. He was being very friendly and I could tell he liked me. I felt like a coward and a moral cretin for not saying anything critical that...

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Should an African renaissance return us to its spiritualistic sources?

Should an African renaissance return us to its spiritualistic sources?

Frescoes in the church of Abuna Yemata Guh, Gheralta, Ethiopia. Photograph by Owen Barder From Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews: Kebede proposes examining how the concept of time shapes Ethiopian identity and Ethiopia’s relationship to modernity. He distinguishes between a cyclical conception of time and a teleological conception of time....

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Léopold Lambert on Gilbert Simondon

Léopold Lambert on Gilbert Simondon

Topology is a term I heard many times when I was studying architecture, too often without questioning its implications for the world around us, and more immediately for our own bodies.

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei Say Yes

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei Say Yes

I would like to offer you today a beginning of a meditation on the word yes, on the gesture of affirmation. We should take great care not to conflate affirmation and saying yes – saying it once, twice, or many times over  – and in which language? All too...

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Face of God

Face of God

If I recall correctly, Plotinus was said by his disciple Porphyry to have experienced a total of four mystical visions, in which he, it is reported, became one with the One. The great Platonist philosopher could not relate anything of his visions, however, since they had brought him beyond...

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Stuart Elden on Foucault’s third/eleventh

Stuart Elden on Foucault’s third/eleventh

Delivered between January and March 1973, La société punitive was Foucault’s third annual course at the Collège de France. It is the eleventh of his thirteen courses there to be published, in what have been uniformly excellent editions under the general editorship of François Ewald and the recently deceased...

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If we have no logical justification for induction then…oops

If we have no logical justification for induction then…oops

Photograph by Oisin Prendiville by Massimo Pigliucci I used to have the “meta” itch, but I learned to live with it and stop scratching it. It only irritates anyway, without doing much good work. Let me explain. If you are a regular (or even occasional) reader of Rationally Speaking...

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