All entries by this author

Amartya Sen Returns to Santiniketan Every Year *

Jul 4th, 2005 | Filed by

‘In this superb collection of essays, Sen smashes quite a few stereotypes.’… Read the rest

Science Needs Fantasy *

Jul 4th, 2005 | Filed by

Thought experiments and what if scenarios are part of the process.… Read the rest

Design Flaws *

Jul 4th, 2005 | Filed by

An engineer who designed such a system from scratch would be summarily fired.… Read the rest

Statement on Rights and Freedoms Criticized *

Jul 4th, 2005 | Filed by

Gives too much legitimacy to David Horowitz and proposed academic bill of rights.… Read the rest

Karl Miller Reviews Christopher Hitchens *

Jul 4th, 2005 | Filed by

Regards himself as a patriot, whose patriotism is universal rather than local.… Read the rest


Jul 4th, 2005 2:06 am | By

Julian’s been on the radio again – in fact he seems to have been on aproximately every other time I listen, lately. That one’s Night Waves and it’s only good until tomorrow, because it’s last Monday’s show and I didn’t know about it until yesterday when I happened to browse the Night Waves page to see what I’d been missing – otherwise I would have told you sooner.

I transcribed one bit because it sort of fits with various things we talk about here from time to time. The interviewer asked how useful philosophy can be, does it change people’s thinking, and so on.

I think it’s possible to read a hell of a lot of philosophy, it’s possible to

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Is That Right?

Jul 3rd, 2005 8:12 pm | By

Here’s something I find quite funny. It’s from The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism from the entry for ‘Speech Acts’.

This issue of parasitic language became one of the turning points of the Searle-Derrida debate. In the late 1970s Searle wrote a “reply” to Derrida’s deconstruction of Austin, assuming that Derrida was attacking Austin and rushing to the master’s defense. Derrida then wrote a hundred-page deconstruction of Searle’s reply, more or less savaging Searle and demonstrating both that philosophically Searle is way out of his league and that methodologically Searle and Derrida are not so very far apart. Both Searle and Derrida are analytical philosophers who believe in rational, logical thought; Derrida is merely better at

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Salil Tripathi on Religious Censorship *

Jul 3rd, 2005 | Filed by

The intolerant will dictate what the rest of us should read and watch.… Read the rest

‘Equality is not Sexy’? *

Jul 3rd, 2005 | Filed by

There’s more than one kind of female genital mutilation.… Read the rest

Just a Light Trim, Please

Jul 3rd, 2005 2:47 am | By

I’d never heard of Sheila Jeffreys before reading this article. Okay so I’m a dreary boring sexless humourless old-timey feminist, but I think she’s right. It depresses me to see the things women do to themselves and how it’s gotten not better but worse since second-wave feminism started.

I’ll tell you something else I hadn’t heard of, and that’s ‘trimmed labia.’ Trimmed what? Trimmed? Trimmed? You trim fingernails and hair, apples and carrots, not pieces of your body! Okay so I’m clueless, but I don’t spend a lot of time keeping up with the ‘sex industry,’ therefore I was unaware there was such a thing as ‘labiaplasty.’ What was that we were saying last year about female … Read the rest

They Say Anything They Want to Now

Jul 2nd, 2005 8:50 pm | By

The trouble is, there is no answer. It’s no good trying to argue the question with the thought that there is an answer if only everyone can be convinced of it – there isn’t. It’s hopeless. There are only two competing goods, or goals, or desires or needs; there’s no way to grant both at once; there’s no way to do the right thing in both directions. At least not that I can ever see.

Three French intellectuals and the publisher of the nation’s premier newspaper, Le Monde, were ordered by a French court in May to pay 1 euro each to Attorneys Without Borders, which Mr. Goldnadel leads, for defaming Jews in an op-ed article three years ago…The case

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The Boundaries of Reasonable Debate *

Jul 2nd, 2005 | Filed by

Tension between prevention of hate-mongering and free speech.… Read the rest

Secular Summer Camp *

Jul 2nd, 2005 | Filed by

Yes but it’s still summer camp.… Read the rest

Why Does Sartre Still Matter? *

Jul 2nd, 2005 | Filed by

Like no one else, he sought to understand what it means to be responsible.… Read the rest

Faith Whatting?

Jul 2nd, 2005 2:42 am | By

They’re getting closer…and closer…and closer.

They’ve reached Cleveland, for instance.

The Cleveland health education museum will open its doors to faith healer Dr. Issam Nemeh on July 10, creating an unusual venue for a purported miracle healing service. HealthSpace Cleveland waived the customary $5,000 rental fee for Nemeh, said Patricia Horvath, the executive director. “We decided not to charge them because a number of board members are supporters of Dr. Nemeh’s work,” Horvath said. “We see spiritual health in the holistic view of overall health,” she said.

The Cleveland what education museum? The Cleveland health what museum? The Cleveland health education what? Don’t you mean the Cleveland bide-a-wee home for bullshitters? The Cleveland theatre of wooerpgahwackawacka? The Cleveland we … Read the rest

Oath? What oath? Want some vitamins?

Jul 2nd, 2005 2:08 am | By

What was that thing Hippocrates said? Something about first doing no harm, wasn’t it? Or am I misremembering – maybe it was first bend your arm, or first wear this charm, or first wind up that yarn. Must have been, because the ‘do no harm’ thing doesn’t always seem to be uppermost in the minds of certain kinds of ‘healers’ – but maybe that kind doesn’t take a Hippocratic oath anyway. Maybe that’s what ‘complementary and alternative’ means. There’s this Rath Foundation for instance.

And so to Africa, where there exist “complementary and alternative medicine” practitioners pursuing the fashionable attack on mainstream medicine, just like in the UK. Take Matthias Rath and the Rath Foundation vitamin empire. They have been

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Review of Rebecca Goldstein on Gödel *

Jul 1st, 2005 | Filed by

The consequences of Gödel’s ideas, and the conundrum of the man himself. … Read the rest

Social Neuroscience, Belief, the Amygdala *

Jul 1st, 2005 | Filed by

To understand how the brain makes sense of the world.… Read the rest

‘Alternative Medicine’ in Africa *

Jul 1st, 2005 | Filed by

Selling expensive vitamins as Aids treatment.… Read the rest

Anti-smoking Ads Focus on Going Limp *

Jul 1st, 2005 | Filed by

Also compare smokers’ teeth to smelly female genitalia.… Read the rest