Ayer On Wittgenstein As Pragmatist

In Wittgenstein (Random House, New York, 1985), A. J. Ayer writes: [Wittgenstein] never adopted the phenomenalist thesis that physical theories can be translated into the set of propositions describing the observable states of affairs that would confirm them…he declared the confirmation of a hypothesis is never completed. In the same set of remarks he characterizedContinue reading “Ayer On Wittgenstein As Pragmatist”

‘Prison Literature: Constraints And Creativity’ Up At Three Quarks Daily

My essay, ‘Prison Literature: Constraint and Creativity,’ is up at Three Quarks Daily.  Here is an introduction/abstract: In his Introduction to Hegel’s Metaphysics (University of Chicago Press, 1969, pp 30-31), Ivan Soll attributes “great sociological and psychological insight” to Hegel in ascribing to him the insight that “the frustration of the freedom of act results in the search ofContinue reading “‘Prison Literature: Constraints And Creativity’ Up At Three Quarks Daily”

Blade Runner 2049: Our Slaves Will Set Us Free

Blade Runner 2049 is a provocative visual and aural treat. It sparked many thoughts, two of which I make note of here; the relationship between the two should be apparent. What is the research project called ‘artificial intelligence’ trying to do? Is it trying to make machines that can do the things which, if doneContinue reading “Blade Runner 2049: Our Slaves Will Set Us Free”

Old Battles, Still Waged: Accepting ‘Defeat’ In Self-Improvement

Over the past couple of days, I have engaged in a time-honored academic ritual: the cleaning of one’s office. Old books, journal articles, student papers and blue books, random handouts from academic talks, conference badges–all fodder for the recycling bin. But I went further, looking for especially archaic material; and I found it in myContinue reading “Old Battles, Still Waged: Accepting ‘Defeat’ In Self-Improvement”

A Theological Lesson Via Military History

In Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu (J. B Lipincott, New York, 1966, p. 85), Bernard B. Fall describes the build-up which foretold the grim military disaster to unfold at Dien Bien Phu–the lack of adequate defenses and ammunition, the poor tactical location etc–making note, along the way, ofContinue reading “A Theological Lesson Via Military History”

Melville On ‘The Most Dangerous Sort’: The Outwardly Rational Madman

In Billy Budd, Sailor (Barnes and Noble Classic Edition, New York, p. 40) Herman Melville writes: [T]he thing which in eminent instances signalizes so exceptional a nature is this: though the man’s even temper and discreet bearing would seem to intimate a mind peculiarly subject to the law of reason, not the less in his heartContinue reading “Melville On ‘The Most Dangerous Sort’: The Outwardly Rational Madman”

Richard Holmes On Biography’s ‘Physical Pursuit’ Of Its Subjects

In an essay describing his biographical work on Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Richard Holmes writes: [A] biography is…a handshake….across time, but also across cultures, across beliefs, across disciplines, across genders, and across ways of life. It is an act of friendship. It is a way of keeping the biographer’s notebook open, on both sides of thatContinue reading “Richard Holmes On Biography’s ‘Physical Pursuit’ Of Its Subjects”

CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity: Masterfully Flawed Apologetics

CS Lewis‘ Mere Christianity is rightly acknowledged as a masterpiece of Christian apologetics; it is entertaining, witty, well-written, clearly composed by a man of immense learning and erudition (who, as befitting the author of the masterful Studies in Words, cannot restrain his delightful habit of providing impromptu lessons in etymology.) Lewis is said to have induced conversionsContinue reading “CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity: Masterfully Flawed Apologetics”

Chatwin And Nietzsche On Metaphors, Words, And Concepts

Writing of the Yaghan people and Thomas Bridges‘ Yaghan Dictionary, Bruce Chatwin writes: Finding in primitive languages a dearth of words for moral ideas, many people assumed these ideas did not exist, but the concepts of ‘good’ or ‘beautiful’ so essential to Western thought are meaningless unless they are rooted to things. The first speakersContinue reading “Chatwin And Nietzsche On Metaphors, Words, And Concepts”

Kundera On Virtuous and ‘Timid’ Centers

In Immortality, (HarperCollins, New York, 1992, pp. 75) Milan Kundera writes: Goethe: the great center. Not the center in the sense of a timid point that carefully avoids extremes, no, a firm center that holds both extremes in a remarkable balance… There is something Nietzschean about the kind of center that Kundera has in mind.Continue reading “Kundera On Virtuous and ‘Timid’ Centers”