Falstaff As Zarathustra

There is much that is admirable in Falstaff. He is funny; he has a flair for verbal pyrotechnics; he is lustful; he enjoys food and drink, he is a good friend; he might commit highway robbery, but it is not clear he would want to hurt anyone in the process. Moreover, one suspects he wouldContinue reading “Falstaff As Zarathustra”

Does Donald Trump’s ‘Pragmatism’ Mean Pragmatism Is Incoherent?

A devastating accusation is making the rounds in America: Donald Trump is a pragmatist; therefore pragmatism is an incoherent ethical and political philosophy. This breathtakingly simple argument establishes its solitary premise by making note of Trump’s assertions that he will do what it takes to fix America’s problems. His supposed inconstancy–his curious admixture of populism,Continue reading “Does Donald Trump’s ‘Pragmatism’ Mean Pragmatism Is Incoherent?”

Political Disputes Are Moral Disputes

Writing for The Stone, (‘Can Moral Disputes Be Resolved?‘, New York Times, 13 July 2015), Alex Rosenberg claims: Moral disputes seem intractable….With some exceptions, political disputes are not like this. When people disagree about politics, they often agree about ends, but disagree about means to attain them. Republicans and Democrats may differ on, say, healthContinue reading “Political Disputes Are Moral Disputes”

Is Artificial Intelligence Racist And Malevolent?

Our worst fears have been confirmed: artificial intelligence is racist and malevolent. Or so it seems. Google’s image recognition software has classified two African Americans as ‘gorillas’ and, away in Germany, a robot has killed a worker at a Volkswagen plant. The dumb, stupid, unblinking, garbage-in-garbage-out machines, the ones that would always strive to catchContinue reading “Is Artificial Intelligence Racist And Malevolent?”

Knowing The Time And Manner Of Our Death

The characters in Nevil Shute‘s On The Beach¬†know that barring natural disasters, and other unforeseen circumstances, they will die in a few months time–in September 1963–of radiation sickness, brought on by the thirty-seven day thermonuclear war that has already wiped out life in the northern hemisphere. They know its painful and uncomfortable symptoms–diarrhea and vomiting–willContinue reading “Knowing The Time And Manner Of Our Death”

Susan Sontag on Truth’s ‘Value’

Susan Sontag, in reviewing Simone Weil’s Selected Essays, offers some remarks on the nature and¬†function of truth, and its placement in our schema of intellectual and emotional endeavor. In doing so, she strikes a slightly Nietzschean note: Perhaps there are certain ages which do not need truth as much as they need a deepening ofContinue reading “Susan Sontag on Truth’s ‘Value’”