The political philosopher Erica Benner used to read Machiavelli like most of us allow others to read him for us, cherry-picking the outré quotes that identify him as an opportunist amoralist. But then she started to notice something strange: most of what he wrote was not very Machiavellian…
One thing many of us appear to believe today is that a quick Google search will answer any question. As I discovered when trying to find out what we believe today, you don’t even need to do the search. Just type in the first few words and see how the algorithms complete it for you. So it was that the phrase “believe in” was completed by – as I suspected – “yourself”.
Love is so last century. What the world needs now, the only thing that there’s just too little of, is empathy. Empathy is widely touted as the key to effective management, good government, better medical care, improved wellbeing, higher-achieving schools, excellent parenting, even world peace. It’s clearly time for a backlash…
INTERVIEW IN SYMPOSION JOURNAL. Talking about philosophy and food. “The key to enjoying life is therefore to be able to cultivate a deep and keen appreciation of the pleasures of the moment while at the same time allowing them to pass without regret.” Read here.
TODAY – BBC RADIO 4. Talking about Derek Parfit, who died on New Year’s Day. Listen again for a limited time at 02:43:00.
For Derek Parfit, getting it right was more important than getting it out, to the frustration of publishers and editors but to the long-term benefit of readers and scholars. When he published, it mattered, and so as a philosopher, he is one of the few of his generation who unquestionably mattered.
The idea of philosophizing about food still strikes many as pretentious and absurd, despite a recent growth in the literature. It embarrasses practical, empirical Anglo-Saxons, who would rather leave such musings to our more phenomenological and literary-minded Continental cousins. Nicola Perullo is one such cousin, but now that his Taste as Experiencehas been translated into English, it is perhaps time to reconsider our cultural suspicion of combining intellect and ingestion…
A curious modern ritual of the festive season is to lament the excess and commercialisation of Christmas while simultaneously partaking in it. Perhaps it is not only at family gatherings that Christmas has a tendency to bring to a head simmering tensions. It also seems to be a time when the dissonance between our simultaneous loving and loathing of capitalism becomes almost unbearable.
It’s easy to condemn political lies and catalogue their awful consequences. It’s more difficult and important to examine the consequences of not lying. In a world where opponents are using every devious trick in the book to defeat you, can anyone afford to be so high-minded?
THE WORLD TONIGHT – BBC RADIO FOUR. I was on last might’s programme talking about whether Trump is shaping or reflecting changing values and social norms. At 40:06 here.