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Williams: Hume on Religion

The vulgar perhaps need a religion: if so, polytheism may well be better, as doing less harm. The sophisticated may well do without one: the trouble is that the religion they may be tempted to embrace may be even worse than the primitive one. Here also, and in some ways parallel, is a distinction that…

Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy

Someone has uploaded a reissue of Bernard Williams’ classic book. [m]y conclusion is that the demands of the modern world on ethical thought are unprecedented, and the ideas of rationality embodied in most contemporary moral philosophy cannot meet them; but some extension of ancient thought, greatly modified, might be able to do so. Wanting philosophy…

Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline

Bernard Williams’ Annual Lecture, Royal Institute of Philosophy, 16 February 2000. I think Jonathan Haidt says as much (per Williams’ quote below) in his The Righteous Mind. It is not a reproach to these liberals that they cannot see beyond the outer limits of what they find acceptable: no-one can do that. But it is more of a…

Bernard Williams on on Gilbert Ryle

William review of Ryle’s posthumously published On Thinking. I paste in the text below image in case the free access is withdrawn. BTW, Ryle was born on this day in 1900. He was an exceptionally nice man, friendly, generous, uncondescending, unpretentious, and, for a well-known professional philosopher, startlingly free from vanity. . . . he conveyed a…

Williams on Ethics, Knowledge, and Reflection

This conclusion is disappointing for those who hoped that we could argue somebody into morality. But Williams is adamant that this was always an ill-conceived hope. The very excellent A. W. Moore taking on the devastating brilliance of Bernard Williams. Williams wants to challenge the idea that moral notions are through and through pure . .…

René Descartes

Born on this day. The following extract from Bernard Williams’ brilliant (but dense) Descartes: The Project of Pure Enquiry. René Descartes was born on 31 March 1596 in a small town near Tours, now called la-Haye-Descartes, where the house of his birth can still be seen. His family belonged to the lesser nobility, his father and…