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Bourbon, Moral Philosophy and Christianity

After one glass of bourbon, we agreed that our work consisted largely of reminding moral philosophers of truths about human life which are very well known to virtually all adult human beings except moral philosophers. After further glasses of bourbon, we agreed that it was less than clear that this was the most useful way…

Discovering and Engaging Wagner

Born on this date. It’s worth giving a listen to this curated bunch of podcasts presented under the auspices of the BBC’s “Composer of the Week” series. As the one and only Bernard Williams wrote: “You can have a well-formed, deep relation to Western music while passing Wagner’s works by, finding them boring or not…

Delvaux + Wagner + Williams

1957. Oil on canvas, 270 x 200 cm. Koninklij Museum voor Schone Kunsten A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art (3 ed.), John Glaves-Smith and Ian Chilvers Here is a late piece by the one and only Bernard Williams from The New York Review of Books. (It’s easy to imagine the crass approach the regressive…

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…