The Enlightenment Wars

by David Ottlinger There was a time, I remember it distinctly, when I felt that having opinions on the Enlightenment put me very much in the minority. As an undergrad, in the late aughts, I read a great deal of Locke, Rousseau, Tocqueville and especially Kant. I and my fellow students in the philosophy department found these figures exciting and […]

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Notes on Metaphysics, Language and Religion

by Mark English Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein were diametrically opposed in their respective attitudes to science and religion. They had many other profound disagreements, but they were united in one respect at least. They both rejected the metaphysics of Idealism. Metaphysically speaking, Russell was mainly concerned to counter idealist notions and to defend a science-friendly and empirical view of […]

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How Racism Abroad Exposes Domestic Racism

By Nathan Eckstrand George Yancy’s April 29th article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Ugly Truth About Being a Black Professor in America,” (1) quoted numerous threats Yancy received in response to his earlier New York Times op-ed, “Dear White America” (2). The Chronicle’s May 3rd follow-up confirmed that many see racism in higher education, by quoting examples sent […]

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The Circle of Quality and Expertise

By Daniel A. Kaufman ___ My daughter Victoria just finished two weeks of a classical voice program at NYU.  It was her first taste of the really big leagues.  Until now, she has excelled in our small city in southwest Missouri as well as statewide.  She is the top singer in her high school and has received the highest score […]

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Course Notes – Susan Sontag, “In Plato’s Cave,” from On Photography (1977)

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://classes.dma.ucla.edu/Winter17/173/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/document-2.pdf Half of my upper-division course in Aesthetics is devoted to criticism, but given the impossibility of doing any justice to the history of the subject in such a short time, I focus on two major critics from the last century: Clement Greenberg and Susan Sontag.  In the case of Greenberg, we read “Avant Garde and […]

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Balthus, Poirot, Strudel, and Rakka

by Daniel A. Kaufman A beautiful documentary about David Suchet’s remarkable portrayal of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, for 25 years. A thoughtful, articulate essay on Balthus that is exactly the sort of thing we need more of in today’s rush to “cleanse” history of its “problematic” artists and works. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2018/06/28/balthus-therese-through-glass-darkly/ The late Jerry Fodor on Kripke, Putnam, modality, and the […]

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Some Things We All Should Agree On

By Daniel A. Kaufman ___ Sometimes it is useful to try and identify a number of things that everyone should be able to agree on.  To the extent to which our moral and political positions may depend upon complex tangles of presuppositions and reasoning, we may not notice that a position we take involves presuppositions that are obviously false or […]

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