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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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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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Provocations

by Daniel A. Kaufman __ American politics is dead, or at least, it’s so completely fucked that it would be better off dead.  What we call “politics” today, when compared to the genuine article, is a little bit like UFC when compared to boxing.  At some level, everyone knows that beating to a bloody pulp someone who is already down […]

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Belief and Knowledge Reconsidered

E. John Winner How did we ever come to use such an expression as “I believe . . . “?  Did we at some time become aware of a phenomenon (of belief)?  Did we observe ourselves and other people and so discover belief? — Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (1) §1. Recently, while reading Section 10 of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, Part […]

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The Common Sense

Note from the author: this is a non-technical, impressionistic introduction to my PhD dissertation. It doesn’t contain a mountain of technical references or jargon, and is going to be developed much further and with more rigor, when I reach those stages of the project. Think of it as an extended “Provocations” piece for now. To that end, it is broad in […]

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Announcing: A Dissertation Introduction

Dear Readers, As you may know, I’m in the Philosophy Ph.D program at the University of Miami. Over the past year I’ve been developing the contours of my dissertation, and have written a non-technical, impressionistic introduction to it. It doesn’t contain a mountain of technical references or jargon, and is going to be developed much further and with more rigor, […]

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Language and Meaning

by Mark English The topic of eliminative materialism (or ‘eliminativism’ as its current manifestation is usually called) has been the focus of some recent debate. What prompted this piece, however, was a brief discussion in a comment thread about a very specific kind of eliminativism which applies to language and which is known as semantic (or meaning) eliminativism. My original […]

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