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Showing posts from May, 2012

Samuel Johnson and the Instable Median

Until I was sideswiped by a batch of exam scripts which were best measured in feet of height rather than number of students, I had been reading archetypal eighteenth-century man-of-letters Samuel Johnson. It was purely for enjoyment (or perhaps out of a sense of duty) - I am far happier right down the other end of the 1700s than in the puzzling world of Swift, Pope and Johnson. But I was also determined to make something of my reading of the reassuring solid Oxford Authors edition of his Selected Works.

One thing that did leap out at me was that the early eighteenth-century seems to have a characteristic ideological syntax. Take the following, from 1756's Observations on the Present State of Affairs:
The time is now come in which every Englishman expects to be informed of the national affairs, and in which he has a right to have that expectation gratified. For whatever may be urged by ministers, or those whom vanity or interest make the followers of ministers, concerning the necess…

In Flight from Speculative Realism: Harman and Heidegger

Speculative realism or 'object oriented philosophy' has been the next big thing in continental philosophy for quite some time now, but having just read Graham Harman's challenge to my beloved phenomenology - in the shape of his essay collection, Towards Speculative Realism - I'm slightly underwhelmed.

His reading of Heidegger is a good point to start, since it is here, in a critique of Being and Time, that Harman argues that philosophy must shift away from the human subject and towards the object.* He does this by radicalising Heidegger's thesis on das Zeug (equipment) and Zuhandenheit (readiness-to-hand). The usual way of reading these sections of Being and Time, as Harman himself admits, is to express the priority of pragmatic lived experience over theoretical, abstracted descriptions. When we encounter a doorway, we do not encounter a wooden construction of certain dimensions, but something we may walk through and which articulates a threshold between two spaces…

Microlecture: Dialectic from Plato to Marx

What is the dialectic? And how do I do it?? This microlecture will try to answer both those questions, looking at Socratic Method, Kant's transcendental dialectic, quite a lot of Hegel, and dash of Marx. Consider it a kind of cocktail.

I've realised I haven't blogged anything substantial for a while: looking forward to attacking a post on some of my current reading, which is ranging from Romantic poetesses to Samuel Johnson.