No, Aristotle Did Not ‘Create’ The Computer

For the past few days, an essay titled “How Aristotle Created The Computer” (The Atlantic, March 20, 2017, by Chris Dixon) has been making the rounds. It begins with the following claim: The history of computers is often told as a history of objects, from the abacus to the Babbage engine up through the code-breakingContinue reading “No, Aristotle Did Not ‘Create’ The Computer”

Descartes, The Planned City, And Misplaced Philosophical Desires

In Part 2 of Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking for Truth in the Sciences Rene Descartes, as a prelude to his ‘clearing away’ of prior philosophy, writes: [T]here is very often less perfection in works composed of several portions, and carried out by the hands of various masters, than inContinue reading “Descartes, The Planned City, And Misplaced Philosophical Desires”

Margaret Cavendish, Epicureanism, and Philosophy as Confession

In her erudite and enjoyable Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity Catherine Wilson makes note of Margaret Cavendish‘s participation in the so-called “Cavendish Salon” in Paris, which served as “the center of a revival of Epicureanism led by Hobbes and Gassendi.” Cavendish, who might have obtained her knowledge of that school of thought either throughContinue reading “Margaret Cavendish, Epicureanism, and Philosophy as Confession”

Movies on Philosophers: Rare, Hard to Make, Desirable

Having viewed the rather disappointing Chopin: Desire for Love over the weekend, I’m struck again by how difficult it seems to be to make movies about artists, writers, or perhaps creators of all kinds. My viewing also served to remind me that movies about philosophers’ lives are exceedingly rare, and the few that have been made–or rather, that I am awareContinue reading “Movies on Philosophers: Rare, Hard to Make, Desirable”

Teaching Descartes: It Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

In ‘Five Parables’ (from Historical Ontology, Harvard University Press, 2002), Ian Hacking writes, I had been giving a course introducing undergraduates to the philosophers who were contemporaries of the green family and August der Stark. My hero had been Leibniz, and as usual my audience gave me pained looks. But after the last meeting, some studentsContinue reading “Teaching Descartes: It Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be”