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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 I paste in the text below image in case the free access is withdrawn.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…

Some Bernard Williams Quotes

Talent is a flame. Genius is a fire. Utilitarians are often immensely conscientious people, who work for humanity and give up meat for the sake of the animals. They think this is what they morally ought to do and feel guilty if they do not live up to their own standard. They do not, and…

A Mistrustful Animal: An Interview with Bernard Williams

THE HARVARD REVIEW OF PHILOSOPHY vol.XII no.1 I particularly learned from his criticism of dividing philosophy into what he called ‘isms’ and schools of philosophy. He believed there were many philosophical questions and ways of arguing about them, but that attaching labels like ‘physicalism’ or ‘idealism’ to any particular way of answering philosophical questions was…

Orwell on Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon”

That Wendell Berry takes on the campus commissars (and their complicitous willingly martyred cannon-fodder individual manqué bidders) offers some inkling of hope for preserving liberality. But I fear we are just entering the beginnings of a Darkness at Noon moment — the prospect of a total eclipse is immanent. Check out Orwell’s article on Koestler’s Darkness at Noon reprinted…