All entries by this author

Experimental Philosophy and its Critics *

Apr 9th, 2006 | Filed by

Experimentalists can’t be sure subjects are responding to the philosophical principles at stake.… Read the rest

Arthur Danto on Descartes *

Apr 9th, 2006 | Filed by

Intellectual quarrels in the 17th century were waspish and insulting, like British book reviewing today.… Read the rest

Goethe as the Advocate of ‘Cheerful Pessimism’ *

Apr 9th, 2006 | Filed by

Placing Goethe in a tradition reaching back to Epicurus and Lucretius.… Read the rest

The State of Ayurveda: Examining the Evidence

Apr 9th, 2006 | By Meera Nanda

Charaka Samhita, the ancient textbook of Ayurveda (third or second centuries BCE), doesn’t mince words when it comes to the subject of quacks. Charaka, the legendary healer from India’s antiquity and the editor of the Samhita (compendium) that bears his name, calls them “imposters who wear the garb of physicians… [who] walk the earth like messengers of death.” These fake doctors are “unlearned in scriptures, experience and knowledge of curative operations…. but like to boast of their skills before the uneducated…” Wise patients, Charaka advises, “should always avoid those foolish men with a show of learning … they are like snakes subsisting on air.”

These words, written more than two thousand years ago, bring to mind those who like … Read the rest

Looks Like Carelessness

Apr 8th, 2006 8:39 pm | By

Okay, this morning I found out that I’m a complete fool, that I’ve wasted my life, that I’ve been walking around with blinders on, that I’ve done what amounts to going to a five-star French restaurant and eating a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on Wonder bread, or going to the Grand Canyon or the Monterey Peninsula or the Lake District or the Bernese Oberland or the fjords or Umbria and spending the whole time indoors doing crossword puzzles.

I haven’t read Proust.

Think of it. I could have been run over by a skateboard at any moment and died without ever reading Proust. I’m a fool, I tell you, a fool, a fool, a fool! This kind of … Read the rest

The Naming of States

Apr 8th, 2006 8:06 pm | By

Norm has a new poll, this one on favourite names of US states. I gave him a dig in the ribs yesterday for stacking the deck by comparing Colorado and Tennessee with Surrey and Essex – and he promptly conceded that stacking was exactly what he had done to the deck. But still, he’s right of course – US state names are a joy. I mentally run through some of my favourites myself at odd moments. (Mind you – Bourgogne, Umbria, Cataluña – the US isn’t the only place with some good names. Saskatchewan. Connemarra. Okay I’ll stop.)

So I’ve picked my five. I’m not spoiling anything by giving them now, because Norm compiles stats, so we don’t know … Read the rest


Apr 8th, 2006 7:54 pm | By

This speaks to me.

In a globalised, consumerist society, identity seems much less something we inherit and increasingly something we can choose, shape or discard…On the one hand, we have an urge to affirm our own individuality and differentiate ourselves from some of the more suffocating aspects of our traditional identities. On the other, this is offset by a continuing human need to belong, to remain anchored in something collective.

That’s that alternation or ambivalence between attachment and autonomy again. We want both, and since they’re pretty fundamentally opposed, we often find ourselves tossed back and forth between them. ‘I love you go away’ syndrome. There’s no place like home when can I leave. I feel so secure, I’m … Read the rest

ID is the Logic of Ignorance, Steve Jones Says *

Apr 8th, 2006 | Filed by

Some ID advocates need glasses; don’t they wonder about the designer?… Read the rest

Why Not Be a Tattletale? *

Apr 8th, 2006 | Filed by

Sociologist Charles Tilly examines our reasons for giving reasons.… Read the rest

Translation of Polittiken Piece by Ibrahim Ramadan *

Apr 8th, 2006 | Filed by

Organisations such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir working to control what other Moslems should believe, think, do.… Read the rest

Armchair Warriors Pile On Jill Carroll *

Apr 8th, 2006 | Filed by

Ooh, I’m sitting in the Empire State Building, I’m on the front lines.… Read the rest

Close Encounters and Identity *

Apr 8th, 2006 | Filed by

‘Having the right mix of strong and weak ties is an essential component of people’s quality of life.’… Read the rest

Kanan Makiya on What’s Gone Right and Wrong *

Apr 7th, 2006 | Filed by

The Ba’ath party was hated, but it turned out to be far more deep rooted in Iraq than we thought.… Read the rest

Enough With the ‘Faith Schools’ Already *

Apr 7th, 2006 | Filed by

National Union of Teachers says religious fundamentalists are gaining control of state schools.… Read the rest

Ignatieff Interviewed *

Apr 7th, 2006 | Filed by

Even when cabinet ministers admit they’ve lied, nobody believes them, interviewer notes.… Read the rest

Misinterpretation and Misreporting *

Apr 7th, 2006 | Filed by

Mims, Pianka, the Discovery Institute.… Read the rest

Conversation and Cosmopolitanism *

Apr 7th, 2006 | Filed by

Carlin Romano on conversation as a process of learning to live with one another.… Read the rest

It Takes a Sentence

Apr 6th, 2006 7:49 pm | By

There’s a lot of kack in this piece on religion in the New Statesman. This particular sentence especially caught my eye, for sheer quantity of kack in one sentence.

“So far, the response of the government has been mostly correct: dismissing the crude secularism of the French ban on the hijab, allowing for the establishment of Muslim schools and working closely with the leaders of the Muslim community.”

One, the word ‘correct’, as if political decisions were as clear-cut as arithmetic. Two, that much-recycled bit of obfuscation: the French ban on the hijab is not a French ban on the hijab, it’s a French ban on the hijab (and other conspicuous religious symbols and garments) in state schools. … Read the rest

Explaining and Understanding

Apr 6th, 2006 7:21 pm | By

I posted a comment on Dennett’s reply to Ruse and Bunting this morning – and since the idea I was commenting on is (I think) a fairly pervasive one, and related to this whole question of ‘shut up about your atheism, they might hear you,’ I thought I might as well post it here too. The first para, in italics, is someone else commenting.

on the subject of Dawkins getting up ones nose, it would be all well and good if he was just another academic. He does however hold a position called ‘The Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University’ (according to wikipedia) which means he has the task of communicating his subject to Read the rest

Introduction to ‘Living Without God’ [pdf] *

Apr 6th, 2006 | Filed by

Ronald Aronson on finding faith in disbelief.… Read the rest