Experientialism and Reality

by Mark English Daniel Kaufman has written on a number of occasions of certain unfortunate trends in contemporary culture, some involving a disconnect between self-perceptions and social reality. In the past he has highlighted the moral vacuousness and hypocrisy associated with ‘the cult of the self’ as well as the distortions and dangers of identity politics. He recently wrote an […]

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Hedonism

by Daniel A. Kaufman ___ Civilization has…no need of nobility or heroism.  These things are symptoms of political inefficiency.  In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic.  People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. —Mustapha Mond (1) 1. Hedonism is the view that […]

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Wittgenstein, Russell, and Lawrence

by Mark English I recently wrote a piece in which I looked at the views of some 20th-century thinkers on language, metaphysics, science and philosophy. My main focus was on the logical empiricists and Ludwig Wittgenstein. In his youth, Wittgenstein worked with Bertrand Russell and then subsequently with the Vienna Circle before taking a rather different direction from the late […]

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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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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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Crankish Thinking

by Mark English The term ‘conspiracy theory’, though it no doubt serves a useful purpose when used in carefully-considered ways, is most often used in polemical contexts simply as a derogatory descriptor. I want to set down a few ideas on the problem of deciding which ideas in the political realm (and, by extension, which sources) are too crankish (or […]

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